Baquba: Iraqi security forces were sharply criticised on Saturday a day after a car bomb in a market in central Iraq killed 30 people, in the worst attack to hit the country since May 10.
The town of Khales, where the blast struck Friday evening, was closed to traffic and stringent checkpoint searches were imposed in nearby Baquba, the capital of Diyala province.
"Khales is a disaster zone," said provincial deputy governor Sadiq al-Husseini, who put the toll at 30 dead and 80 wounded.
"Tomorrow, a meeting of the provincial council will be held to remove from office Diyala police chief Major General Abdul al-Hussein al-Shammari and Khales police chief Brigadier General Khodeir al-Timimi," he said.
Meanwhile family members of the victims prepared to send the bodies of the dead, who were overwhelmingly Shiite Muslim, to the holy Shiite city of Najaf to be buried.
The bomb exploded near an office of the police rapid reaction force in the Khales, a predominantly Shiite town northeast of Baghdad, which in was divided between Al-Qaeda insurgents and Shiite militiamen in 2006 and 2007.
The latest violence came as political wrangling over the outcome of Iraq`s March 7 election rumbles on, with no bloc having yet assembled the parliamentary majority necessary to form a government.
"The repetition of a series of attacks on this city puts many question marks on the way that security is run in the province in general, and in Khales in particular," said Diyala MP Hadi al-Amiri, who hails from Khales.
"We call on the prime minister to open an immediate investigation and hold accountable those who failed to do their jobs. This is the second time such an attack has happened in the same area, which indicates that the security forces have not taken adequate measures," Amiri added.
Khales was struck on March 26 by twin bombings in front of a cafe and a restaurant which killed 42 people and wounded 65 others.
Before the March 7 election, Amiri headed the Council of Representatives` security and defence committee. He remains chief of parliament`s Badr bloc, the former military wing of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, a Shiite group seen as close to Iran.
Friday`s violence was the deadliest in Iraq since four bombs killed 53 people outside a textiles factory in Hilla, south of Baghdad, on May 10.
Figures released this month showed the number of Iraqis killed in violence in April fell slightly compared to March, but was almost unchanged from a year ago -- 328 people died as a result of attacks last month.
The latest attack also came as the US military, which currently has about 94,000 troops in Iraq, is on track to reduce the force to 50,000 by September.
On May 11 the Pentagon said the pace of the drawdown was on schedule.