- The Washington Times - Monday, June 27, 2005

MOSUL, Iraq — Suicide bombers struck a police headquarters, an army base and a hospital around Mosul yesterday, killing 33 persons in a setback to efforts to rebuild the northwestern city’s police force, which was riven by intimidation from insurgents seven months ago.

At least 14 persons were killed in attacks elsewhere in Iraq, including a U.S. soldier whose convoy was hit by a roadside bomb in Baghdad and six Iraqi soldiers who were shot to death outside their base north of the capital.

The attacks in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, started early yesterday when a suicide bomber with explosives hidden beneath watermelons in a pickup truck slammed into a downtown police station near a market. U.S. Army Capt. Mark Walter said 10 policemen and two civilians were killed.

Less than two hours later, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the parking lot of an Iraqi army base on Mosul’s outskirts, killing 16 persons, Capt. Walter said. Most of the victims were civilian workers arriving at the site. Of the seven injured, one lost a leg and another was paralyzed from the waist down, he said.

A third attacker strapped with explosives walked into Mosul’s Jumhouri Teaching Hospital in the afternoon and blew himself up in a room used by police guarding the facility, killing five policemen.

“I thought it was a mortar attack. I rushed to help and evacuate the dead. I picked up two legs and two hands. It seems they belonged to the bomber because we did not find a head or the rest of his body,” said Ahmed Mohammed al-Hadidi, a hospital medic.

Abu Musab Zarqawi’s terror group, al Qaeda in Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attacks in Mosul, the country’s third-largest city. The claim, which was made on an Internet site used by militants, could not be verified.

Sitting on the banks of the Tigris River, Mosul is a religious and ethnic mosaic that some see as a microcosm of Iraq.

Some of Iraq’s most-feared terror groups — including the Ansar al-Sunnah Army and al Qaeda in Iraq — operate in the city.

Last November, gunmen stormed police stations, bridges and political offices, overwhelming police forces who often failed to put up a fight. Some officers also reportedly cooperated with insurgents. Only about 1,000 of the city’s 5,000 policemen returned to work, forcing the government to recruit new officers.

The U.S. military praised the Iraqi forces for their efforts in the face of yesterday’s attacks, saying “policemen in Mosul have continued to man their posts.”

The American soldier was killed and two were wounded when a roadside bomb struck a U.S. convoy in the capital, said Sgt. 1st Class David Abrams, a spokesman for Task Force Baghdad. At least 1,735 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an AP count.

Six Iraqi soldiers also were killed outside their base in Sadiyah, 60 miles north of Baghdad.

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