Iraq’s Ramadi hit by suicide bomb

A suicide car bomb in western Iraq has killed at least
eight people, including six policemen, reports say.

The blast hit near the Anbar provincial government’s
offices in central Ramadi at 1000 (0700 GMT), officials say.

The blast came as Prime Minister Nouri Maliki tries to
form a government and end a long period of political uncertainty.

That process is part of a power-sharing agreement ending
a record eight months of deadlock since Iraq held inconclusive elections in March.

More than 20 people were injured in Sunday’s blast, and
the latest reports suggest there may have been a second explosion shortly
afterwards.

Local police suggested the casualty toll was likely to
rise.

“A suicide car bomb targeted a police checkpoint in the
centre of the city, about 200m (220 yards) from the Anbar government offices,”
police major Rahim Zabin was quoted as telling AFP news agency.

No group has yet said it carried out the attack.

But in recent weeks, Iraqi officials have made numerous
arrests in the area of men they say are al-Qaida militants.

Some will interpret Sunday’s attack as a response to
those arrests, says the BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse in Baghdad.

Situated 100km (60 miles) west of Baghdad, Ramadi was a
stronghold of Iraq’s Sunni insurgency after the US-led occupation of Iraq in
2003, until local Sunni tribes turned against al-Qaida in 2007.

That brought a period of quiet to the province, analysts
say, but the number of attacks mounted ahead of March’s elections.

Last month, after more than eight months of limbo,
squabbling and back-room negotiations, a deal was finally struck to allow Mr.
Maliki to remain in his post.

He has two weeks to form a cabinet in a bid to end the
country’s political impasse.

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