Iraq: 500lb truck bomb kills 40 in suicide attack
A SUICIDE bomber in a flatbed lorry laden with 500lb of explosives killed up to 40 people outside a Baghdad police station yesterday.
Television pictures showed a deep crater in the road as ambulances and firefighters attended the scene. The wreckage of a vehicle smouldered more than an hour after the blast.
The attacker detonated the massive bomb at the Rashad police station in the eastern neighbourhood of Mashtal at about 2:50pm.
The vehicle slammed into concrete barriers surrounding the police station and the attack left half a dozen vehicles in flames. Six cars, including two police cars, were seen burning and several nearby shops were damaged, police officials said. Body parts lay scattered throughout the blast area.
Kasim, a police major, said: "This is a very cowardly act carried out by criminals, not mujahideen."
Militants have stepped up suicide attacks in a campaign to topple the US-backed Iraqi government. There have been more than 20 blasts in the past ten days alone.
"The car bomber made a deliberate decision to attack the Iraqi police station," said Major Russell Goemaere, spokesman for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team. "The terrorists undoubtedly see the improved Iraqi police services as a threat to their operations."
Despite that positive interpretation, a senior US military official in Washington offered a more cautious view of the ability of Iraqi forces in a report released last week.
"Only a small number of Iraqi security forces are taking on the insurgents and terrorists by themselves," said an assessment provided to the US Senate by General Peter Pace, vice-chairman of the US military's joint chiefs of staff.
Yesterday's attack was the deadliest since a suicide bomber blew himself up next to a fuel-tanker lorry on 16 July, causing a fire that killed 98 people south of Baghdad.
Earlier in the day, scattered attacks across the capital left three dead, including two police officers, according to police and hospital officials. A police lieutenant-colonel was killed in northern Iraq.
Lieutenant Colonel Nouredine Raouf was killed by gunmen in the ethnically tense city of Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad.
Meanwhile, two mortar shells fell near the interior ministry and the police academy in central Baghdad, killing one officer.
Gunmen also shot dead Saad Kadhim, a captain in the new Iraqi intelligence service, in the western Baghdad neighbourhood of Jihad.
A Baghdad city employee was also seriously wounded in a drive-by shooting as he headed to work.
Police also said that a former member of a local city council was shot last night in front of his home in Dujail, 50 miles north of Baghdad.
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