Three suicide car bombings killed 20 people in northern Iraq yesterday, including a top municipal council leader plus a bodyguard of Iraq's Kurdish deputy prime minister, officials said.
Continuing violence during the past days has also claimed the lives of three children and a US soldier, underscoring the rampant, random nature of an insurgency that has killed almost 800 people since the April 28 announcement of the new Shiite-led government, according to an Associated Press count.
At least 12 people were killed in a massive explosion targeting a restaurant at 8:15am in Tuz Khormato, 88km south of Kirkuk, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said in a statement. Police Lieutenant Sabah Hidayat said at least 40 people were wounded.
The suicide bombing tore apart the town's Baghdad Restaurant, where bodyguards of Iraq's Kurdish deputy prime minister, Rowsch Nouri Shaways, were eating, said police Brigadier Sarhad Qadre.
"I was sitting inside my restaurant when about six cars parked nearby and their passengers came inside and ordered food," said restaurant owner Ahmed al-Dawoudi. "Seconds later, I heard a big explosion and the restaurant was turned into twisted wreckage and rubble. Blood and pieces of flesh were everywhere."
Shaways was not at the restaurant at the time of the blast, which killed 12 diners, including one his guards.
The blast set ablaze eight cars in the restaurant's car park, the focal point of a bloody, rubble-strewn scene that US and Iraqi police quickly cordoned off. Shards of glass, shoes and splattered breakfast meals covered the restaurant's floor as emergency workers raced around overturned tables and wooden chairs in a bid to treat the casualties.
Colonel Abbas Mohamed Amin, chief of Tuz Khormato police, believed the suicide bomber, who was driving a white Toyota sedan, was following the Kurdish leader's bodyguards, who had left Baghdad for Sulaimaniyah, 260km northeast.
In Kirkuk, a suicide car bomber killed four Iraqi bystanders and wounded at least 11 others, said Dr. Bassam Mohammed of Kirkuk Emergency Hospital.
The explosion, which happened at 8:30pm, targeted a convoy of Toyota Land Cruisers carrying civilian contractors, damaging one of the vehicles but injuring none of its occupants, the US military said.
In Baqouba, another suicide bomber killed four people, including Hussein Alwan al-Tamimi, 41, deputy head of Iraq's northeastern Diyala provincial council since January, police Colonel Mudhafar Mohammed said. Three of his bodyguards also died in the attack and four people were wounded.
A US soldier assigned to the Marines was killed when a roadside bomb struck the vehicle he was traveling in on Wednesday near Ramadi, the military announced yesterday.