, MOSUL, Jul 9 – A double suicide attack and two other bombings killed at least 42 people in Iraq on Thursday in the deadliest day since US forces pulled out of towns and cities nationwide just over a week ago.
The suicide bombers targeted the home of a police sergeant and his brother, who also worked for the security forces, in the northern town of Tal Afar, provincial police chief General Khaled Hamdani told AFP.
The first attacker was wearing a police uniform and he blew himself up after his intended victims answered a knock on the door, killing the police sergeant, his wife and young daughter, and seriously wounding his brother, Hamdani said.
The attackers struck minutes apart around 7.30am (0430 GMT), with the second explosion engulfing dozens of civilians who had gathered to help victims of the earlier blast, a security official said.
It was the worst single incident in the conflict-hit country since American forces withdrew from Iraq’s urban centres on June 30 under a landmark accord between Baghdad and Washington.
Dr Fathi Yassin at Tal Afar hospital said 35 people were killed and 61 wounded in the attack, carried out a day after two car bombs exploded in the main northern city of Mosul, killing 12 people and wounding dozens more.
Police and hospital sources said the casualties in Tal Afar included women and children. The scene of the blast was completely sealed off by police.
Tal Afar is a mostly Turkmen town between Mosul and the Syrian border and has often been the target of violence.
In March 2007, it was hit by one of the deadliest single attacks in Iraq since the US-led invasion of 2003 when a suicide truck bomb killed more than 150 people.
In further attacks on Thursday, another six people were killed and 31 hurt when two bombs exploded in a market in the mainly Shiite district of Sadr City in Baghdad, said the capital’s security spokesman Major General Qassim Atta.
A roadside bomb targeting the convoy of the Iraqi Central Bank’s governor, meanwhile, killed one civilian and wounded five people, including two members of the security forces, in the Karrada business district of Baghdad.
The governor was unhurt.
The spate of bombings comes after US troops pulled back from urban centres under an agreement that paves the way for a complete American military withdrawal by the end of 2011.
The four weeks leading up to the US pullback witnessed the highest death toll in the country in 11 months, according to official figures.
A total of 437 people, including 372 civilians, were killed in June, figures compiled by government ministries show — the highest toll since July 2008.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned last month that insurgents and militias were likely to step up attacks in a bid to undermine confidence in Iraqi security forces.
US Vice President Joe Biden, who has repeatedly voiced concern about lingering feuds between Iraq’s various sects being a roadblock to political progress, was last week rebuffed on the issue when he visited Iraq.
"We don’t want other parties to interfere in this matter because it will cause complications," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on state television, referring to the country’s national reconciliation process.
"(Joe Biden) has to convey to President (Barack) Obama the common desire of Iraqis to solve their problems together," he said.
Baghdad’s comments came a day after Biden warned of a "hard road ahead if Iraq is going to find lasting peace and stability," alluding to the need to bolster trust between different ethnic and religious groups.
Maliki, who will visit Washington on July 21, last week said that the US troop pullback signalled that the two countries had "entered a new phase."