MOSUL: Two suicide bombers on Wednesday killed four policemen in a police station in the northern city of Mosul, including an officer who oversaw a deadly raid on militants, Iraqi security officials said.
A third bomber was shot dead before setting off his explosives belt in the attack targeting Lieutenant Colonel Shamil Ahmed Oglah, who commanded the operation last week against an Al-Qaeda affiliate, a police officer said.
The early morning bombings killed Oglah and three other policemen, an interior ministry source said, and destroyed most of the police station in the Qabr Al-Binat area of western Mosul, according to the police officer.
The officer said Oglah had commanded an operation in western Mosul in which a leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Al-Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate, was killed.
Suicide bombers had made four previous attempts to kill the lieutenant colonel, he said.
The attack comes two days after twin bombings in the western city of Ramadi killed nine people, including four policemen, and wounded 49, among them five women and four children.
At least 19 police died in apparently coordinated car bombings across Iraq on August 25, security officials said, including 15 officers who were killed at a passport office in Kut, southeast of Baghdad.
A total of at least 53 people were killed and some 250 wounded in the attacks, which were blamed on Al-Qaeda and remnants of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party.
Mosul, 350 kilometres (220 miles) north of Baghdad, and the surrounding Nineveh province are one of the most violent areas of Iraq.
The province is split between Sunni Arab and Kurdish communities bitterly divided over the ambitions of Kurdish leaders to incorporate large parts of it into their autonomous region in the north.
It also has Assyrian, Shabak, Turkmen and Yazidi minorities.
On December 20, Iraqi army Special Forces killed three Libyans allegedly planning suicide bombings ahead of Christmas in a raid in Mosul, a defence ministry spokesman said.
"Special forces from the Second Brigade in Mosul killed three Libyan suicide bombers in an operation," acting on a tip-off, Major General Mohammed Al-Askari said.
The soldiers raided a house in southern Mosul and came under attack with hand grenades, sparking a clash in which the three "terrorists" were killed, he said.
Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, who was approved by parliament for a second term in office along with a national unity cabinet on December 21, has cited security as one of his top three priorities.
But 10 ministries, including those responsible for security, which are controlled by Maliki in the interim, still only have acting heads.
While violence has dropped dramatically across Iraq since its peak in 2006 and 2007, attacks remain common, especially in the capital and Mosul.
The number of people killed last month was the lowest in a year for the second month running, with 171 people — 105 civilians, 23 soldiers and 43 policemen — losing their lives in attacks.
In his first address after being re-appointed, Maliki committed his new government to tackling the "enormous" challenges to improve security across Iraq.