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Suicide bomber kills 13 in Iraq’s Anbar province

A suicide car bomb killed at least 13 people Sunday in the western province of Anbar as militants continued a campaign of periodic attacks ahead of the formation of Iraq’s next government.

The explosion at the Iraqi government compound in the provincial capital, Ramadi, occurred a week after the killing of26 people in a series of bombings around Baghdad. Such violence feeds a general resignation among some Iraqis that, despite improvements in security over the last three years, the Iraqi government remains unable to completely stop the bloodletting.

The attack took place ahead of this week’s Shiite holiday, Ashura, which marks the slaying of Imam Hussein in 680 that led to the formal schism between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. At the same time, Iraqi political blocs are hurrying to name a government before the year’s end.

The country’s national elections in March ushered in a stalemate that ended only last month when Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a member of Iraq’s Shiite majority, won backing for a second term; Anbar, the site of much of the most bloody fighting shortly after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, is majority Sunni Arab.

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The attack in Ramadi saw a sport utility vehicle trying to ram the gates of the government compound; the vehicle exploded under fire from guards, killing at least 13 people and wounding 30, according to police. The vehicle, which appeared to belong to someone influential, had passed one checkpoint before it started to speed and was hit.

Fighting in Anbar quieted down after Sunni Arab tribes launched a revolt against the militant group Al Qaeda in Iraq in late 2006, but in the last year the region has again been shaken by bouts of horrific violence. Car bombings, shootings and explosions at security officers’ homes have highlighted the ability of militant groups to regenerate despite a long series of military campaigns against their key leaders.

Last December, a coordinated double bombing killed 25 people outside Ramadi’s government compound and severely wounded the governor, who lost an arm.

“The Qaeda organization is behind such work. They are trying to destroy the political process,” said Hikmet Jasim Zaida, a deputy governor.

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Others criticized Iraq’s police and army for failing to protect the strategic government center.

“I blame the security forces for this,” said Saad Abdullah Mansi, a provincial council member. “How could the suicide bomber just reach this place.”

In the eastern city of Baqubah, a bomber killed a man, who was organizing logistics for Ashura, and his son as they left their house, a police officer said.

ned.parker@latimes.com

Salman is a staff writer in The Times’ Baghdad Bureau.


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