BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives into a crowd of officers outside a police station in Baghdad on Sunday, killing four and wounding 12, a source in Iraq’s Interior Ministry said.
The bomber struck as the officers were changing shifts in the mainly Shi‘ite Amil district in the southwestern area of the Iraqi capital, the source said. Another six officers were wounded when a bomb attached to a parked car exploded near their patrol in eastern Baghdad.
Tensions have been running high since a March 7 parliamentary election that produced no clear winner, forcing potentially divisive negotiations between Iraq’s Shi‘ite, Sunni and Kurdish political factions to agree a new government.
Although overall violence has tumbled since the worst of Iraq’s sectarian warfare in 2006-07 killed tens of thousands, civilian deaths have climbed since the vote.
Iraqi authorities said 275 civilians were killed in bomb blasts and other attacks in May and 274 in April, up from 216 in March and 211 in February.
In Mahmudiya, 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad, the head of the local council, Talib Abbas, was wounded on Sunday when a roadside bomb exploded as his convoy headed to the council building, a police source said. His deputy and seven other people, including bodyguards, were also wounded.
In the election, a cross-sectarian coalition led by secularist former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi rode strong support from Iraq’s minority Sunnis to a two-seat victory over a largely Shi‘ite bloc headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
But Maliki’s State of Law group has announced a tentative alliance with the third-place finisher, the Shi‘ite Iraqi National Alliance, to form a single bloc in parliament.
Allawi has warned that any attempt by the Shi‘ite groups to form a government that excludes his Sunni-backed Iraqiya coalition could spark renewed violence.
On Saturday, gunmen killed an Iraqiya candidate who did not win a seat in parliament. Faras al-Jubouri was shot to death in his home near the troubled northern city of Mosul.
He was the second Iraqiya candidate to be killed since the election.
Reporting by Waleed Ibrahim and Aseel Kami; Writing by Jim Loney and Matt Robinson; Editing by Noah Barkin