Baghdad: Two bombs that exploded in swift
succession killed 14 people Wednesday near a crowded
restaurant in a mid-sized city in Iraq`s north, officials
Tal Afar Mayor Abdul Aal Abbas al-Obedi said a car parked
outside a popular downtown restaurant exploded in the early
afternoon. As people rushed to the scene to help, a suicide
bomber in the crowd detonated his explosives belt, Abbas said.
Al-Obedi and local politician Qusai Abbas said 12 people
were killed in Tal Afar, a mixed Sunni Arab-Turkomen city
about 150 kilometers east of the Syrian border and 420
kilometers northwest of Baghdad.
Abbas said 22 people were wounded, although al-Obedi put
the injuries at 15. Such confusion is common in the immediate
aftermath of attacks in Iraq.
Tal Afar was a major battleground between US forces and
Iraqi insurgents in 2005, and the Americans claimed it as one
of their first lasting counterinsurgency victories. It has
however seen infrequent but bloody militant attacks in the
"The blasts of today turn our memories backward to the
previous years of explosions, and return our minds to the
violence and sectarian displacement of the people of Tal Afar
then," said Abbas, a member of the Ninevah provincial council
that includes representatives for the city.
The town sits strategically between the Syrian border and
the Ninevah capital of Mosul, which for years was a hotbed of
insurgency during the years Iraq teetered on the edge of civil
war. Sunni fighters emboldened by al Qaeda`s battle in Iraq
traveled from Syria to train and plot attacks in Mosul before
heading south toward Baghdad to target the Shiite-led
government and pilgrims there.
Though al Qaeda`s threat has been drastically weakened in
Mosul over the last five years, it remains potent, and the
city continues to be a staging ground for Iraqi fighters and
smugglers now heading to Syria to help opposition forces
overthrow the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose
religion is an offshoot of Shiism.