HILLA: A suicide bomber who drove his bomb-filled car into a police station south of Baghdad killed 24 policemen and wounded 72 others, according to an updated toll from a medical official on Friday.
Thursday morning’s attack in Hilla, 95 km (60 miles) south of the capital, was the deadliest to hit Iraq in more than a month as security chiefs braced for revenge attacks by Al-Qaeda following the death of Osama bin Laden in a US special forces raid in Pakistan on Sunday.
"24 policemen died, including five captains and two lieutenants, and 72 were wounded," said the director of Hilla’s main surgical hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He added that, of the wounded, 25 remained in serious condition.
The bombing, which took place at 7:00 am (0400 GMT) on Thursday, left a two-meter (six-foot) crater and badly damaged the police station in the centre of the mainly Shia city of Hilla, capital of Babil province, in addition to several nearby houses and shops.
Mainly Shia Hilla lies just beyond the edge of a confessionally mixed area south of the capital that earned the monicker Triangle of Death during the sectarian bloodshed that peaked in Iraq in 2006 and 2007.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but security forces nationwide began tightening security in the wake of the bombing.
Violence is down dramatically in Iraq from its peak, but attacks remain common. A total of 211 Iraqis were killed in violence in April, according to official figures.