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Suicide Bomber Attacks Cafe in Northern Iraq, Killing 17

The World

The assault occurs in a Shiite neighborhood. More than 30 lives are lost in the day's violence.

July 17, 2006|Ali Windawi and Borzou Daragahi | Special to The Times

KIRKUK, Iraq — A suicide bomber walked into a scruffy, crowded cafe in a Shiite Muslim neighborhood in the town of Tuz Khurmatu on Sunday and set off his explosives belt, killing at least 17 civilians and injuring 25 others.

A British soldier also was killed and an Iraqi oil company executive was kidnapped in a day of violence that left more than 30 Iraqis dead.

The Alam Dar cafe, next to a Shiite mosque in Tuz Khurmatu, was devastated in the blast, police and witnesses said. The dusty farming town 40 miles south of the provincial capital of Kirkuk is divided between ethnic Turkmens from both the Shiite and Sunni branches of Islam, locked in an often violent battle for power.

In Kirkuk, which has been racked by increased violence, Iraqi police killed an insurgent and captured another, an Iraqi police officer said, after a failed assassination attempt on a high-ranking Iraqi army officer.

Gunmen in the city, contested by Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens, killed two brothers execution-style. In addition, police found the body of a kidnapping victim, and a truck driver was killed and two others kidnapped in separate incidents.

Violence also continued in Baghdad. An Oil Ministry spokesman said Adel Mohammed Qazzaz, a Kirkuk native who oversees the country's northern oil operations, was kidnapped in Baghdad during a visit to attend a meeting. His car was stopped along a highway by gunmen, who beat Qazzaz's guards and fled with him.

A roadside bomb on a highway in the capital's northeast killed two civilians. Another bomb aimed at a passing police patrol killed one civilian and two policemen in north Baghdad, police said.

The capital has been besieged by violence despite a monthlong security plan put in place by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and renewed last week by parliament.

About 2,020 people died violently in the city of 6 million in June, including 1,360 who were slain at close range by small-arms fire, according to numbers issued by the governor's office. At least 39 car bombs exploded, 120 mortar rounds struck the city and 166 roadside bombs exploded.

Gunmen swarmed a hospital in the city of Baqubah, killing four police officers and freeing 14 injured suspected insurgents. Police said they suspected that the assailants were aided by corrupt police officers guarding the hospital.

Police said the alleged insurgents shot and seriously wounded one of the freed detainees, possibly to keep him from informing on their group.

In the nearby city of Muqdadiya, a religiously mixed agricultural hub, a former high-ranking member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and his son were slain by gunmen. A woman passing by was also killed.

The British soldier died of injuries sustained in Saturday night clashes with members of radical cleric Muqtada Sadr's Al Mahdi militia in Basra. Soldiers were attempting to arrest an Al Mahdi leader when the gunfight broke out in the southern city. At least one other British soldier was injured.

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Special correspondent Windawi reported from Kirkuk and staff writer Daragahi from Baghdad. Staff writer Saif Hameed in Baghdad and special correspondents in Baqubah and Basra contributed to this report.

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