Al Qaeda in Iraq suicide assault team targets Diyala provincial center

Al Qaeda in Iraq fighters dressed as Iraqi policemen carried out a coordinated suicide assault on the Diyala provincial council earlier today. According to reports from Iraqis on the scene as well as unnamed Iraqi security officials, US troops helped Iraqi soldiers free those who were taken hostage. Al Qaeda in Iraq’s purpose in launching the assault was to conduct a prisoner exchange for several of its leaders in Iraqi custody. Initial reports indicated that most of the nine people killed were members of the suicide assault team. From Reuters:

Gunmen and suicide bombers stormed a provincial council in central Iraq on Tuesday after exploding a car bomb outside, killing at least 8 people before U.S.-assisted Iraqi forces regained control of the building.

The assault in Diyala province’s capital Baquba, 40 km (65 miles) northeast of Baghdad, was the latest test for Iraqi forces as they prepare for a planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from the OPEC oil producer at the end of this year.

At least five gunmen disguised as Iraqi forces stormed the main gate after a car bomb exploded and a suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside.

A second suicide bomber blew himself up as the attackers clashed with police, witnesses and local officials said.

An Iraqi counter-terrorism official told Reuters the five gunmen who raided the council were killed in the attack, which he said bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda.

During the fighting, several council employees caught inside one part of the compound said they managed to escape through a side entrance with the help of Iraqi and U.S. forces.

“I heard four to five big explosions,” Salim al-Zaidy, a local human rights worker who was inside the building during the attack, told Reuters. “The Iraqi army special forces and U.S. forces released us, using a back gate.”

Al Qaeda in Iraq has already carried out three other suicide attacks in Iraq in June. Just yesterday a suicide bomber killed three policemen and a civilian in an attack outside a police headquarters in Basrah.

Two of the attacks this month took place in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s home town. On June 6, a suicide bomber killed 12 Iraqis, including four Army officers and five soldiers, in an attack on the Presidential Palaces compound in Tikrit. On June 4, a suicide bomber killed four people, including two policemen, in an attack on a university hospital in the city. Also, 17 people were killed and more than 50 were wounded in a bombing outside a mosque in Tikrit that is visited by government officials.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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1 Comment

  • IronV says:

    I think about our troops performing this ugly, dangerous work–in a hostile environment, out of the public consciousness. And still performing at almost unbelievable levels of courage, effectiveness and professionalism. And I am so grateful.


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