RAMADI, IRAQ (Reuters) - Two bombs planted inside a senior Iraqi police officer’s car killed at least 10 people on Friday in the western city of Ramadi, police said.
The first explosion killed the police officer and the second bomb went off five minutes later as police and bystanders gathered around the wreckage in Iraq’s Sunni heartland of Anbar, which shares a border with Syria.
“We were on duty at a nearby checkpoint when the car exploded. We ran to work out what was going on, but before we reached the car it exploded again,” said a policeman at the scene. “Many people and policemen were killed.”
At the height of Iraq’s insurgency in 2006-07, Anbar was in the grip of al Qaeda’s local affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, which has been regaining strength in the Sunni heartland in recent months.
More than 1,000 people died in militant attacks across Iraq in May alone, making it the deadliest month since the worst of the sectarian bloodletting more than six years ago.
Iraq’s Sunni minority has felt sidelined since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein and empowered the majority Shi’ites.
Sunni Muslim insurgents regularly target members of the security forces, heads of tribes and officials they see as supporters of the Shi’ite-led government.
Sectarian tensions in Iraq have been amplified by the conflict in neighboring Syria, where mostly Sunni rebels are fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Shi’ite Iran.
Late on Thursday, bombs exploded in busy coffee shops and at other targets across Iraq, killing at least 22 people, police and medics said.
Reporting by Kamal Naama, Writing by Suadad al-Salhy; Editing by Gareth Jones