FALLUJAH, Iraq_ Three powerful car bombs ripped through the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on Sunday, killing at least 19 people and injuring more than 80 others, Iraqi police and health officials said.
The explosions, which targeted government buildings and the citys main hospital, increased fears about the regrouping of extremists in and around Ramadi, which is the capital of Anbar province. The blasts also showed the vulnerability of Iraqi security forces, who only recently took full responsibility for protecting the province in accordance with a U.S.-Iraqi pact that took effect June 30.
Police said the first car bomb exploded at 12:30 p.m. in a parking lot outside the main government compound, which houses the governors office, Iraqi police headquarters and and the provincial council. Seven minutes later, when crowds and Iraqi police had gathered at the scene, a second car bomb detonated. Police said at least 16 people died in the twin bombings.
About an hour later, a suicide attacker driving an explosives-laden car targeted Ramadi General Hospital, where victims from the earlier bombs were being treated. Iraqi guards stopped the attacker, who detonated his car bomb before entering the hospital, police said. The two guards who stopped the bomber from entering were killed, police said.
One other victim was reported dead at the scene. Authorities say the casualty toll could climb, with dozens of victims in critical condition.
Naji is a McClatchy special correspondent.