The Kurdish city of Irbil is in world headlines again, and again for a notorious reason. A suicide car bomber killed at least 15 traffic policemen and wounded about 100 more Monday outside the unit's headquarters in the city.
Despite two massive U.S.-Iraqi military offensives against militant smuggling routes and training centers west and north of Baghdad, Iraq's insurgency appeared unfazed while 73 people have been killed in the past two days - including 27 people on Monday.
The suicide bomber in Irbil wore a police uniform and slammed his car into a gathering of some 200 traffic policemen during morning roll call in a courtyard behind the police headquarters.
According to Dr. Mohammed Ali of Irbil General Hospital, the earlier count of 20 dead was revised to 13: the doctor miscounted bodies amid the confusion, caused by the massive bomb which scattered limbs and other body parts over a wide area.
Irbil Teaching Hospital received one body from the blast. Another injured man died at yet another hospital.
The attack occurred on a main street that leads to the oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
The attack came a day after a suicide bomber walked into a crowded Baghdad kebab restaurant near the heavily fortified main gate of U.S. and Iraqi government headquarters at the Green Zone, killing at least 23 people including policemen - the deadliest attack in the capital in just over six weeks. A total of 45 people were killed in insurgent assaults throughout the country on Sunday.
Most of the suicide attackers are thought to belong to extremist groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq, which has justified killing other Muslims, including women and children, in their quest to destabilize the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
The rate of insurgent attacks has risen dramatically since al-Jaafari announced his Cabinet on April 28. The emergence of Ibrahim al Jaafari, the 57-year-old London doctor, to head Iraq's first democratic government in modern times was the successful result of a complex deal between the United Iraq Alliance, the Shiite political coalition, and the Iraqi Kurds. But now the government appears to be practically helpless - at least 1,180 people have been killed since the end of April.
Some extremists have also started threatening fellow Sunni Arabs, who make up the insurgency's core, because some leaders of the minority Muslim sect have expressed a readiness to join the political process. Most Sunnis boycotted January's historic election.
On Monday, Sunni Arabs were expected to name their representatives to a committee that has until mid-August to draft Iraq's new constitution. The number of Sunni members took weeks to negotiate with the Shiite majority.
Elsewhere, a band of insurgents launched a bold assault on a Baghdad police station killing at least eight policemen and an 8-month-old baby early Monday, police said. At least 23 were wounded.
Gunmen killed three members of the Kurdish Peshmerga militia Monday near a camp in the western town of Hit, Dr. Muhanad Jawad said from the capital, where the bodies were brought. Hit is 140 kilometers (85 miles) west of Baghdad.
Separately, a roadside bomb Monday killed a U.S. soldier on patrol near Tal Afar, 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of the Syrian border, the military said. The soldier belonged to the 1st Corps Support Command and was not part of the two major U.S.-Iraqi offensives taking part in the western Anbar province.
U.S. Marines reported killing 15 insurgents Sunday in battles near Fallujah, the Anbar province town 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad and a perennial insurgent stronghold.
Based on AP news story
Su-35 and Su-30 fighters were carrying out a scheduled training flight, when the incident occurred