Bombs kill 18 in Iraq's central Anbar province

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

BAGHDAD – Staggered explosions in central Iraq killed 18 people Wednesday and injured the governor of Anbar province, Iraqi officials said.

Anbar is strategically important because it was once the heartland of the al-Qaida linked insurgency before American officials paid fighters to join a pro-government force.

Police official Lt. Col. Imad al-Fahdawi said two bombs exploded in Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad. He says a suicide bomber in a car caused the first blast on the main road near the provincial administration buildings.

Gov. Qassim al-Fahdawi, the deputy police chief and other officials came to inspect the damage, al-Fahdawi said, when a suicide bomber on foot detonated a vest full of explosives nearby.

The deputy police chief was killed and the governor and other officials wounded, al-Fahdawi said. Police have put a curfew in place, he added.

Dr. Ahmed Abid Mohammed confirmed the casualties and said the governor had suffered burns on his face, injuries to his abdomen and other areas.

There are 18 provincial governors in Iraq. Anbar is primarily Sunni, the same sect of Islam as former dictator Saddam Hussein. The province was the former stronghold of the insurgency before the U.S. military began paying fighters to participate in the pro-government Sons of Iraq program, also known as the Awakening Council.

The Sons of Iraq have been widely credited with stabilizing the country after joining up with U.S. and Iraqi forces in the anti-al-Qaida drive about three years ago. But they have been hit by a steady barrage of revenge attacks since then and five of them were killed at a checkpoint Tuesday in central Iraq



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