BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) - The police chief of Iraq’s second-largest city, Basra, survived a roadside bomb attack on Sunday, the first attempt on his life since British forces handed the city to Iraqi control on Dec. 18, police said.
Abdul-Jalil Khalaf had already survived six assassination attempts since he was placed in control of Basra’s police force in June, with orders to battle the Shi’ite militias who held sway in the city’s streets.
He has often been praised by U.S. and British commanders as one of the most able leaders of Iraq’s security forces.
One of Khalaf’s bodyguards was wounded when two bombs exploded near the police chief’s convoy in the northern part of the city, police said. Khalaf himself was not hurt.
The province of Basra, which accounts for more than 80 percent of Iraq’s oil exports and is home to Iraq’s only port, has been the scene of a turf war among rival militias.
Its fate is seen as a test of whether the Iraqi authorities can keep peace without troops from the United States or Britain.
Violence has subsided somewhat since British forces pulled out of the city in September.
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