Deaths as blasts rock central Iraq city

A bomb kills 17 people and injures at least 50 at a mosque in Tikrit, Iraq.

    A blast targetting Friday prayers killed 17 and injured at least 50 in Iraq [EPA]

    Two apparently coordinated bomb attacks have killed at least 21 people and injured more than 60 others in the Iraqi city of Tikrit, local officials say.

    Victims of the first bomb were leaving Friday prayers when the blast went off, while the second, a suicide explosion, targeted the hospital where the wounded were taken.

    The bomb at the mosque was hidden in a barrel at the entrance of the house of worship, where provincial officials often attend Friday prayers, according to a security official.

    "The bomb went off when people were leaving the mosque after Friday prayers, and two of the wounded were members of the provincial council," an interior ministry official told the AFP news agency.

    A doctor at the city's hospital confirmed the casualty toll from the first blast as being 16 dead and 50 wounded.

    The subsequent suicide attack killed at least five people, leaving 10 others wounded, an interior ministry official said.

    Thursday attacks

    These attacks come a day after Thursday's multiple blasts which killed at least nine people and injured more than a dozen in the city of Ramadi in western Iraq's Anbar province, according to military and interior ministry sources.

    Police said on Thursday that two improvised explosive devices [IED] exploded near the eastern gate of a local government building compound, one after the other.

    Al Jazeera's Omar al-Saleh, reporting from Baghdad, quoting government sources, said: "Significantly, the compound houses the governor, police command and several other security directorates."

    Shortly afterwards, a car bomb was detonated by the vehicle's driver.

    A fourth bomb, also a suicide car bomb, went off near the Ramadi hospital where military and civilian rescuers were rushing to bring the victims for treatment, Hikmet Khalaf, Anbar province deputy governor told Reuters news agency.

    "Al-Qaeda is behind these attacks. They always carry out multiple explosions to inflict as heavy casualties as possible on the security forces and civilians," Khalaf added.

    "The four explosions took place between eight and 8:30pm local time, and most of the people at this time were at home and the casualties might have been higher if the explosions took place earlier,'' Jasim al-Halbusi, head of the Anbar Provincial Council, said.

    While overall violence in Iraq has dropped from the height of sectarian warfare in 2006-7, bombings still occur daily and insurgents are still capable of carrying out lethal attacks almost eight years after the US-led invasion.

    In February, a suicide bomber blew himself up during a ceremony in a cultural centre in Ramadi, killing 15 people and wounding 21.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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