- The Washington Times - Friday, July 31, 2009

BAGHDAD | Twelve people were killed by bombings in northern and western Iraq on Thursday, including seven in a building used by a Sunni-backed political group in Diyala province, police said.

The violence is a reflection of the deep political and ethnic divisions that remain in Iraq despite the security gains in the past 18 months.

Diyala experienced violence earlier this week when Iraqi security forces and an Iranian opposition group living in a camp in the province engaged in two days of clashes that left seven people dead.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh confirmed Thursday that the seven were killed when Iraqi forces seized control of the Iranian group’s camp, reversing two days of denials that anyone had been killed.

Police in western Iraq, meanwhile, said five people died and 39 were injured when a suicide bomber blew up his vehicle in Qaim, near the border with Syria. A police official said the bomber was targeting a police station, but concrete barriers prevented him from reaching it.

“There are many civilians under the rubble. Many houses were destroyed completely, and the police imposed a vehicle and motorcycle ban,” he said, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Daily attacks have continued throughout Iraq, but the U.S. military warns that the greatest threat to the country’s security is tension between the Kurdish-ruled north and the Arab-dominated central government. The two sides have clashed over disputed oil and land in the north.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will visit the capital of the semiautonomous Kurdish region, Irbil, on Sunday, a little more than a week after the Kurds held important presidential and parliamentary elections, state TV reported.

Thursday’s first blast hit Baqouba, the provincial seat of Diyala that lies northeast of Baghdad, killing at least seven and wounding 10 people, said Maj. Ghalib al-Karkhi, a spokesman for the Diyala police. Other police and hospital officials confirmed the toll.

The bomb was hidden inside a building used by the Reform and Development Movement, a Sunni-backed political group founded last year that won four seats in the last provincial council elections.

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