BAQUBA, Iraq (AFP) – Three car bomb blasts targeting key buildings in the Kurdish-controlled Iraqi town of Qara Tapah killed at least 20 people on Sunday, the mayor and security sources said.
“At 10.30 this morning (0730 GMT), three car bombs struck Qara Tapah, killing 20 people and wounding 10,” said Mayor Wahab Ahmed, who was lightly wounded in the attack.
Qara Tapah lies close to Jalawla, a key battleground northeast of Baghdad between pro-government forces and Islamic State (IS) group militants.
The mayor said the three car bombs targeted his office, a building used by the Kurds’ asayesh internal security service and an office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party.
Wahab Ahmed said nearby buildings used by the electricity department and the Kurdish peshmerga forces’ veterans affairs bureau were also damaged in the explosions. “Some people are still stuck in the wreckage,” he said.
Sources in the peshmerga and a local council member confirmed the death toll.
Confessionally and ethnically mixed Diyala province, which borders Iran, has seen intense fighting pitting militants of IS against Iraqi federal troops, and their Kurdish and Shiite militia allies.
Meanwhile, a bomb explosion killed the police chief of Iraq’s restive Anbar province, Iraqi officials said, in a major blow to the Shiite-led government’s efforts in fighting the lethal Sunni-led insurgency.
Anbar has seen a growing insurgency since early this year led by the IS. Along with different Sunni armed groups, the group has fully controlled the city of Fallujah, parts of Ramadi and rural areas.
The convoy of Brigadier General Ahmed al-Dulaimi had been traveling through an area to the north of Ramadi when the bomb went off nearby, said councilman Faleh al-Issawi.
Al-Issawi added that Iraqi security forces had recaptured the area from the militants a day earlier. It was not immediately clear if others were killed.
Iraq’s Interior Ministry, in a statement, confirmed the killing and called al-Dulaimi a “hero who set a good example for self-sacrifice.” It praised his role in reorganising the provincial police force and leading major fighting that caused heavy casualties among the militants.
The attack in Anbar followed a bloody day in the capital, Baghdad, where a series of car bomb attacks killed at least 45 people in Shiite areas.
Nobody claimed responsibility for the recent attacks, yet senior government officials and Shiite areas are among the favorite targets for Sunni insurgents.
Iraq faces its greatest challenge since the 2011 withdraw of US troops, as militants from the IS group now hold vast swaths of the country and neighboring Syria.