Suicide car bomber kills seven near Baghdad’s Green Zone

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 September, 2012, 6:16pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 September, 2012, 6:16pm

A suicide car bomber killed seven Iraqis and wounded 11 others, including a member of parliament, close to an entrance to Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone on Monday, where several Western embassies are located, police sources said.

The central area, known officially as the International Zone, houses diplomatic missions including the US embassy and the blast was close to the July 14th suspension bridge which leads into the zone.

“I was on my way to enter the Green Zone when the blast happened. I was wounded in my shoulder and I’m in hospital now,” Habib al-Turfi, a Shiite member of parliament, told reporters.

Two of the seven killed were soldiers, the sources said.

“Cars were lining up waiting to be searched at the checkpoint that leads to the Green Zone and suddenly a speeding car exploded nearby,” said one police source whose patrol was stationed near the scene of the attack.

“Some people died inside cars and I saw two soldiers lying on the ground. We immediately closed the area,” said the source, who declined to be named.

The last attacks in the capital occurred on September 9, when a series of bombs in mainly Shiite Baghdad districts ended one of the bloodiest days of the year with more than 100 killed across the country.

“It’s a suicide attack with clear fingerprints of al-Qaeda terrorist groups,” a security official said on condition of anonymity.

In August about 164 Iraqis were killed, government figures showed, as security forces wrestle with insurgent groups and sectarian violence which has plagued Iraq for almost a decade.

Infighting in Iraq’s delicately balanced cross-sectarian government, and an al-Qaeda resurgence, have intensified fears of a return to widespread violence, especially as Iraq struggles to contain spillover from the growing conflict in Syria.

Iraq’s fugitive vice president Tareq al-Hashemi, sentenced to death this month by an Iraqi court, told reporters that Shiite Iran is using Iraqi airspace to fly arms to Syria.

Many Sunnis in Iraq are disgruntled with what they see as Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s determination to minimise their share in power.

Heightened political tension is often accompanied by a surge in violence as Sunni Islamist insurgents try to capitalise on instability to strike at the government, local security forces and Shiite religious targets.

Violence in Iraq has eased since the dark days of sectarian slaughter that erupted a few years after the 2003 invasion to topple Saddam. But insurgents are still carrying out at least one major coordinated attack a month.