- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 24, 2007

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber driving a truck with explosives hidden under bricks destroyed a police station yesterday in Baghdad — the largest in a series of insurgent strikes against the American-led security crackdown. At least 47 persons died in the attacks, including 20 at the police station.

The bomber bypassed tight security to get within 25 yards of the station by blending in with other trucks coming and going as part of a construction project. He detonated his explosives after he reached the main gate. Police said half of those killed were policemen; 28 persons were wounded.

“We did not suspect the suicide truck, and he easily reached the main gate where he detonated his truck. Suddenly, there was a big explosion and part of the building collapsed,” said police Cpl. Hussam Ali, who saw the blast from a nearby guard post. “We were very cautious, but this time we were taken by surprise. The insurgents are inventing new methods to hurt us.”

The thunderous explosion caused part of the two-story station to collapse and sent a plume of black smoke drifting across the Baghdad skyline.

U.S. and Iraqi forces set up checkpoints at the scene and helped carry the wounded to hospitals, while military helicopters rumbled overhead.

In all, at least 74 persons were killed or found dead in Iraq yesterday, making it the seventh deadliest day since U.S. and Iraqi forces launched the security operation on Feb. 14, according to an Associated Press tally. That estimate included at least 25 bullet-riddled bodies — 11 found in Baghdad, six pulled from the Tigris River south of the capital and eight in the Anbar city of Fallujah.

The U.S. military also announced the deaths of two more U.S. soldiers on Friday — one killed by a roadside bomb while on a foot patrol south of Baghdad and another who died in fighting in the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Anbar province.

Northwest of the capital, a man wearing an explosives belt blew himself up outside a pastry shop in a central market area in Tal Afar, killing at least 10 persons and wounding three, a little more a year after President Bush declared that city was an example of progress made in bringing security to Iraq.

A man driving an explosives-laden truck carrying boxes of new shoes also blew himself up near a Shi’ite mosque in Haswa, 30 miles south of Baghdad, killing at least 11 persons and wounding 45, police said.

Two suicide car bombers also struck a police station in Qaim, near the Syrian border and about 200 miles west of Baghdad. At least six persons — five policemen and a woman — were killed and 19 wounded in that attack.

The bombings were not as numerous and the casualties not as high as the death tolls that were often in the dozens before the U.S. and Iraqi governments sent thousands more troops to the Baghdad area to try to stop a surge of retaliatory attacks between Sunnis and Shi’ites.

But they occurred soon after a suicide bombing that wounded Iraq’s highest-ranking Sunni politician and killed nine other persons and a rocket strike that landed near a press conference held by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Baghdad, signaling that the Sunni insurgents who usually stage such attacks are picking their targets carefully and finding new ways to overcome security measures.

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