A suicide car bomb killed at least 21 people and wounded 75 yesterday in the Iraqi city of Hilla, medical and police sources said, as security forces braced for revenge attacks after the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Iraq’s army and police have been on high alert since US commandos shot dead the al-Qaeda leader and security officials said they had received intelligence that the Sunni Islamist group’s Iraqi wing would carry out revenge attacks.
A suicide bomber rammed his car into the entrance of a police headquarters in the center of the mainly Shiite city of Hilla during a shift change, when many police officers were outside the building.
A police official in Hilla, 100km south of Baghdad, said 16 people were killed and 41 wounded. An Iraqi Interior Ministry source in Baghdad put the toll at 16 killed and 50 wounded and a hospital source in Hilla said 21 had been killed and at least 80 wounded.
Blast walls in front of the police buildings collapsed and the building was badly damaged, a reporter at the scene said.
Most of the dead and wounded were police.
Other buildings on the main road, including shops and houses, were also damaged.
“The negligence comes from Baghdad because we’re always asking them to increase the number of our policemen, but there is no response,” the Babil Provincial council head Kadhim Majeed Tuman said.
Tuman put the toll at 13 killed and 43 wounded.
Attacks on the army and police are rising as they prepare to take full responsibility for security ahead of a full withdrawal of US troops by Dec. 31, more than eight years after the US-led invasion of Iraq.