Two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside Iraq's Interior Ministry in Baghdad yesterday, killing at least seven people and wounding 35, police and ministry sources said.
A ceremony celebrating the 84th anniversary of the formation of the Iraqi police force was taking place at the police academy next door to the ministry at the time of the blast.
An Iraqi state television correspondent who attended the ceremony said one mortar bomb had hit the parade ground while a suicide bomber had blown himself up at a checkpoint outside the Interior Ministry.
The ministry has been attacked by insurgents on several previous occasions. It has become a symbol of hatred for Sunni Arab insurgents who accuse it of running Shiite militia that target the minority Sunni Arab community. The ministry denies such charges.
In November, US troops found a bunker run by the Interior Ministry containing 170 prisoners, most of whom were Sunni Arabs. Many showed signs they had been abused and tortured.
black hawk down
A US Army Black Hawk helicopter went down in northern Iraq, killing all 12 Americans believed to be aboard in the deadliest crash in nearly a year, while five US Marines died in weekend attacks, the military said.
The latest deaths followed an especially bloody week in which about 200 Iraqis and a dozen US troops were killed.
US military officials said on Sunday the UH-60 Black Hawk crashed just before midnight on Saturday about 11km east of Tal Afar, a northern city near the Syrian border that has seen heavy fighting with insurgents.
"All [those killed] are believed to be US citizens," military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Barry Johnson said.
He did not say what caused the crash, but bad weather has wracked most of Iraq.
The military yesterday said eight service members and four civilians were on the flight.
The Black Hawk was part of a two-helicopter team providing support for the 101st Airborne Division and was flying between bases when communications were lost, the military said. After a search, the helicopter was found about noon on Sunday, it said.
Three Marines were killed on Sunday by small arms attacks in Fallujah, 64km west of Baghdad, the military said. Two other Marines were killed on Saturday by roadside bombs in separate incidents, the military said.
With the latest Marine deaths, at least 2,199 members of the US military have died since the war started in 2003, according to an AP count. That toll did not include those killed aboard the Black Hawk.
In violence on Monday, gunmen assassinated an investigative judge in Kirkuk, police Capt. Farhad Talabani said. In Baghdad, gunmen fired on three people working on Iraq's de-Baathification commission, killing one person and wounding two, police Capt. Qassim Hussein said.
Five people died in separate attacks in Baghdad on Sunday, including a policeman killed by a suicide car bomber targeting an Interior Ministry patrol. Seven others were wounded.