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Terrorism & Security

Iraq's security forces targeted in two attacks

In Iraq, two attacks in two days on security forces are a sign that the country is still far from stable – though attacks on civilians are down.

By Laura KasinofCorrespondent / January 19, 2011



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Iraq's national police forces were targeted in two suicide bombings in the past two days, marking the deadliest round of violence in Iraq in the past three months and highlighting the particular danger that the country's police face.

On Tuesday, a suicide bomber wearing a vest stuffed with explosives killed at least 50 people outside a police recruitment station in Tikrit, the hometown of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The explosives detonated in the middle of a group of about 100 police volunteers waiting to be interviewed, according to BBC.

No terrorist organization has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but according to The New York Times, the style of bombing bore the marks of the Islamic State of Iraq, a group affiliated with Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

The deadly violence continued Wednesday morning, when two men rammed an ambulance into a police station in Baquba, a city about 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, in volatile province of Diyala.

A spokeswoman for the provincial governor in Diyala told Reuters that 12 people were killed in the attack and more than 50 were wounded.

According to another BBC report, the first man stepped out of the ambulance and started shooting guards at the entrance of a special security police center. The ambulance was then driven into the police compound, where it exploded.

According to The New York Times, Iraqi officials are urging greater precautions among security forces, which have become a frequent target.

They have attacked Iraq’s government and security services in particular, and the latest violence prompted criticism of an apparent lapse of precaution, given that history.

“I’m asking the security forces, isn’t it enough?” a member of Iraq’s new Parliament from Salahuddin, Mutashar al-Samaraie, said in televised remarks from the chamber. “Isn’t it time to take into account the previous events and attacks that have killed thousands of Iraqis?”

Tariq al-Hashimi, a former vice president who remains in Parliament, said in a statement, “The army and police recruiting centers have become attractive targets that are easily reached.” He also called for a review of policies after what he called “repeated security breaches.”

The Sydney-based newspaper The Australian, quoted local councilman Abdullah Jabara accusing Al Qaeda of being behind the attack in Tikrit, which lies about 80 miles northwest of Baghdad.

"The aim of this terrorist attack carried out by Al Qaeda operatives is to shake the security in the province and to bring back instability to Tikrit," he said. "The security forces shoulder responsibility for this tragedy."

Mr. Jabara also noted that militants take advantage of "inefficiencies" and "breaches" in security measures. The attack is "an indication that the terrorists are still on the job and all security forces should be on high alert all the time,” he said.

The Monitor reported last month that roughly 4,000 civilians were killed in war-related violence in Iraq in 2010, the lowest number since the US invasion in 2003 – but another report added that developments in domestic politics make it unlikely the bloodshed will soon be over.

As the US combat presence has fallen, so have levels of violence, which are far below the height of the Iraq war four years ago. But with Prime Minister Maliki now having firm control over the police and military, with the Interior and Defense portfolios left entirely in his hands following the deal reached earlier this month to form a government nine months after Iraq's parliamentary election, sectarian tensions could rise again.

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