A suicide car bomber targeted a line of vehicles stopped at a checkpoint in western Iraq on Monday, killing seven people and wounding 14, police and hospital officials said.
The car exploded as vehicles were waiting to be inspected before crossing a bridge near the provincial capital of Ramadi, a police officer said. The dead included three policemen; the others were civilians, he added.
An official at Ramadi General Hospital confirmed the death toll. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to release information to journalists.
Mohammed Hussein Alwan, a 40—year—old farmer, was riding in a pickup truck about 200 yards (meters) from the attacker’s car when the blast occurred.
“I ran to the site and saw five burning cars and a child who was thrown by the explosion and landed on the top of a car,” he said. “I tried to approach him to see whether he was alive or dead, but the police started to open fire in all directions and we had to run away.”
Ramadi is a former insurgent stronghold in Anbar province about 70 miles (115 km.) west of Baghdad. It has been relatively calm since Sunni tribal leaders revolted against al—Qaida in Iraq, but a series of recent attacks in the area have raised concerns about a resurgence of violence before January’s national elections.
American troops have pulled back from the city along with other urban areas across the country in line with a security pact with Iraqi government.
Prime Minister Nouri al—Maliki has sought to reassure Iraqis that the U.S.—trained security forces are capable of taking over. Recent bombings, especially an Aug. 19 attack on government ministries in Baghdad that killed about 100 people, have shaken people’s confidence at a crucial time, just months before the election.
Iraq’s rampant corruption has also become a key election issue, and another arrest warrant was issued in the government’s crackdown, a judge said Monday. A Finance Ministry official was charged with wasting public funds, judge Arif Shahin said.
The official, Abdul—Basit Turki, is Director General of the ministry’s Auditing Department.
The same court also said it was seeking the arrest of Iraq’s ambassador to Jordan. He is accused of failing to act on an arrest warrant issued for an Iraqi wanted in the Saddam—era assassination of a dissident.
The dissident was killed in Beirut in 1994 by Iraqi intelligence agents. Iraq’s post—Saddam government reopened the case this year and says one of the suspects is in Jordan’s capital.
The ambassador, Saad al—Hiyyani, is accused of refusing to forward the warrant to Jordanian authorities to carry out an arrest, said the judge, Shahin.
Al—Hiyyani denied the charge and said he had not been notified of any warrant for his own arrest.
“The charges are false,” he said. “They are malicious and bear hidden motives to tarnish my public image.”