25 killed in attack on Iraq alliance
BAGHDAD – As top Shiite and Sunni Muslim leaders broke their Ramadan fast together in a symbolic show of unity Monday, a suicide bomber struck in their midst, killing as many as 25 people and injuring 40 in Baqouba.
The attack apparently targeted Diyala provincial and tribal leaders who are part of U.S. efforts to forge an alliance against Sunni extremists, who once controlled large parts of the city about 35 miles northeast of the capital.
Gov. Raad Hameed Tamimi was injured in the blast, which killed the Baqouba police chief, Brig. Gen. Ali Dalyan, and other senior officials, Iraqi security officials said.
U.S. forces also were at the meeting, said Lt. Col. Michael Donnelly, a military spokesman based in Tikrit. He said there were casualties but could not confirm figures provided by Iraqi police nor say whether they included Americans.
The Associated Press reported that two U.S. troops were wounded in the attack.
The U.S. military has poured troops into Baqouba in a bid to drive out insurgents, who last year declared the city the capital of their self-declared Islamic caliphate.
No one claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack, which bore the hallmarks of previous strikes by al-Qaida in Iraq.
Iran, meanwhile, closed its border with northern Iraq in an apparent bid to step up pressure for the release of one of its citizens detained by U.S. forces last week, said officials in the Kurdish autonomous region.