FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - A minibus bomb exploded at a market in the western Iraqi town of Amiriya on Tuesday, killing at least nine people and wounding 31, a local official said.
Five of the dead were police officers, Shakir al-Isawi, leader of Amiriya town council, told Reuters. Police said several cars were set on fire by the explosion.
“The area has been sealed off to bring the situation under control,” Isawi said. “This explosion carries all the fingerprints of al Qaeda.”
Amiriya lies about 25 km (15 miles) south of the city of Falluja in the western province of Anbar.
It was the second big bomb in the large, desert province in as many days. On Monday, a suicide bomber walked into an Iraqi funeral tent and blew himself up in the western town of Haditha, killing at least six mourners.
Anbar province was once the epicenter of Iraq’s insurgency and under the de facto rule of Sunni Islamist al Qaeda before it was routed by Sunni tribes allied with U.S. forces in 2007.
Although it has calmed down since then, militants still strike there periodically with spectacular bomb attacks, usually aimed at civilians or Iraqi security forces.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is trying to woo voters across ethnic and sectarian divides before national elections scheduled for January, has been keen to portray himself as the man who brought security to a chaotic country.
He is fighting the election on law and order, pledging to keep improving security, which most Iraqis agree is better than it has been for many years.
In the northern city of Mosul, where the epicenter of Iraq’s insurgency shifted, Iraqi police say they have arrested at least 200 suspected insurgents in sweeps in the past week.
Despite repeated efforts to stamp it out, the predominantly Sunni Arab insurgency remains undefeated.
Reporting by Fadhel al-Badrani; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Andrew Dobbie
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