Baghdad: A car bomb exploded outside a Baghdad police station Sunday in the deadliest of a pair of attacks that killed six people in the Iraqi capital, security and hospital officials said.
A suicide attacker drove the bomb-rigged car up to a gate protecting the police post in western Baghdad`s al-Amil neighborhood during an early morning shift change when officers were gathered outside its blast walls.
The blast killed four police officers and one civilian, and wounded 15 people, according to emergency security and hospital officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Though violence has declined dramatically from just a few years ago, when the country teetered on the brink of civil war, attacks around the capital continue. The violence is a serious challenge for Iraq`s police and military forces as US troops prepare to withdraw.
Adding to the sense of instability, Iraq`s political leaders are still wrangling over who will control the next government three months after a parliamentary election.
Iraqi and US officials fear insurgents and other extremist groups are taking advantage of the political stalemate to stage attacks aimed at re-igniting sectarian violence. Most of the attacks have been blamed on a dwindling but determined core of al Qaeda in Iraq militants or others linked to the terror group.
Sunday`s attack at the police station sent shrapnel through the car window of government employee Ahmed Abbas as he was driving to work, cutting his arm.
"A big fire broke out and black smoke was rising from the area near the police station," said Abbas, 38. "Security guards began shooting in the air to keep others from coming near. Some police were lying on the ground and others were wounded."
Police quickly sealed off the blast site at a residential complex, which was littered with rubble. The police station itself was relatively unscathed. Two fire trucks hosed down a burning car.
Members of Iraq`s security forces and law enforcement officials have been a top target for insurgents, especially since US troops pulled out of Iraq`s cities a year ago.
Later Sunday, a roadside bomb hit an Iraqi police patrol in Baghdad`s eastern Zayouna neighborhood, wounding four policemen and a bystander, according to two police officials who also spoke on condition of anonymity.
Elsewhere in eastern Baghdad, a remote-controlled bomb exploded near a courthouse, missing a judge who was the target but wounding one of his bodyguards and several bystanders, police said.
Another bomb, stuck to the underside of a car in Baghdad`s central Allawi al-Hillah area, ripped the vehicle apart during rush-hour traffic, killing the driver and wounding three passengers, according to police and hospital officials who also spoke on condition of anonymity.