Security agencies dispute death toll in Iraq bombing

McClatchy NewspapersApril 16, 2009 

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber attacked troops at an Iraqi Army training camp in western Iraq Thursday, but Iraqi authorities were in disagreement about the casualty count.

Iraqi security and medical officials originally said the blast in camp in Habbaniyah about 70 miles west of Baghdad killed 16 and wounded 50. And Interior Ministry officials Thursday evening confirmed the same casualty count.

But the commander of the Anbar Operations Command, Maj. Gen. Murdhi Mishhen Al Mahalawi said no one was killed, and at least 17 soldiers were injured in the suicide bombing. And a nurse at Ramadi hospital, where the men were being treated, said the original death toll he'd given reporters was wrong.

The bombing comes on the heels of a series of explosions that have killed dozens in Baghdad and a bombing in the oil rich province of Kirkuk on Wednesday that killed at least ten.

Iraqi security officials said a young man in his teens walked into the training grounds at lunch time just east of Ramadi, in the mostly Sunni Anbar province. The explosion ripped through the lunch crowd at about 1 p.m. on Thursday.

Just after the explosion U.S. and Iraqi forces shut down all roads leading to the base and throughout the area. Iraqi police in the area said that the Iraqi commander at the base ordered the arrest of all the soldiers at the gate of the base.

The attack is the latest example in a disturbing trend of increasing violence as the U.S. begins pulling out of Iraqi cities.

All U.S. soldiers are to be out of Iraqi cities by the end of June and outside of Iraq by the end of 2011. President Barack Obama said all combat troops will be out of Iraq by the end of August except for a reserve force of about 50,000 troops. As the violence increases, the U.S. has already shifted its focus to Afghanistan.

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McClatchy Newspapers 2009

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