A suicide car bomber attacked a police station in northern Iraq Thursday, killing at least 12 people and highlighting the profound security challenges Iraq's new government will face once it is formed.
A man dressed in a police uniform drove his car into the police headquarters in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit and detonated the vehicle during a change of shift, police said. The attack also wounded 35, hospital officials said.
"The car came towards the station and I could see the driver was wearing our uniform," said police captain Husam Musseyif, who was wounded in the side and leg by shrapnel.
It was one of a series of shootings, bombings and mortar attacks around the country yesterday that underlined just how tense Iraq's security remains more than three weeks after elections and with a new government yet to be formed.
In Kirkuk, also in northern Iraq, two Iraqi policemen were killed and two were critically wounded in a roadside bomb blast.
In Qaim, near the Syrian border in western Iraq, four Iraqi soldiers were killed when gunmen attacked their patrol. And in Baghdad, gunmen opened fire on a bakery killing a customer.
Two US soldiers were killed and two wounded in separate roadside bomb blasts north of the capital, while another bomb blast near a police patrol killed three people in the town of Iskandariya, south of Baghdad.
In the United States, military investigators decided there was not enough evidence to bring formal charges against a Marine who killed an unarmed Iraqi while his unit searched a mosque in the former rebel bastion of Falluja last November, CBS reported.
Dealmakers or breakers?
The widespread violence - in another incident a mortar missed a police station south of Baghdad and killed a woman at home - came as politicians held further rounds of talks in Baghdad to try to strike a deal on forming a new government.
Two men, Islamist Shi'ite leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari and interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a secular Shi'ite, are in the running to be premier of the first democratically elected Iraqi Government in more than 50 years.
Jaafari, a doctor and father of five, is the candidate of the United Iraqi Alliance, a religious Shi'ite-led coalition that won the election, scooping 48 percent of the vote, enough for 140 seats in the new 275-member National Assembly.
Allawi, the head of his own coalition, came third, winning 14 percent of votes, or 40 seats in the parliament.
Since a two-thirds majority is effectively needed in the assembly to decide the top government positions, neither Jaafari's coalition nor Allawi's has enough backing. Both therefore are bidding for the support of the Kurds.
The Kurds came second in the January 30 election, clinching 75 seats in the assembly, a margin that makes them kingmakers.
(China Daily February 25, 2005)