BAGHDAD — A woman bent on avenging the deaths of her sons strapped explosives to her chest Friday and blew herself up outside a meeting of Sunni Muslims who'd turned against the militant group al Qaida in Iraq, killing at least 12 and wounding at least 17.
The explosion in Muqdadiyah was one of three violent acts Friday in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, that left at least 24 people dead and 21 wounded. The attack came days before the U.S. military is scheduled to withdraw one of the five combat brigades that were ordered to Iraq as part of the American troop buildup. The withdrawal will lower the number of U.S. troops in Iraq by 5,000.
U.S. and Iraqi officials differed on the number of dead and injured in Muqdadiyah. Iraqi police said 16 people died and 28 were wounded. The American military put the number at 12 and 17, respectively.
A second attack occurred just north of Muqdadiyah, killing six Iraqi soldiers and five members of another Sunni group that had turned against the Islamic extremists. Again, American and Iraqi accounts differed, with the U.S. saying the deaths were caused by men armed with AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. Iraqi police said the fatalities were due to a car bomb that targeted a checkpoint manned by the Sunni group and the Iraqi army.
The third attack came in the village of Mansuriyah, west of Muqdadiyah, where a homemade bomb killed a police officer and wounded four other people.
Ibrahim Hassan Bazlan, a member of the local ruling council, said that the suicide bomber, identified as Suheila Shlet, had vowed revenge on members of the 1920 Revolution Brigade, a Sunni insurgent group that recently had allied with the American military and turned against al Qaida in Iraq. Bazlan said the group had killed Shlet's two sons and she'd vowed to retaliate. It wasn't clear when or why Shlet's sons were killed, though Bazlan said the killings had occurred before the 1920 Revolution Brigade had allied with the United States.
American and Iraqi soldiers saw the woman walk into a crowd of civilians near a meeting place for the Sunni volunteers. At least five women and three children died in the attack.
Earlier this week, the Islamic State of Iraq, an al Qaida in Iraq front organization, announced that it had created a special unit to target and fight the thousands of Sunni volunteers who now are battling the Islamic militants.
Also Friday, gunmen damaged a pipeline in Salah ad Din province that carries crude oil from the northern city of Kirkuk to the Baiji refinery north of Baghdad. Some oil leaked into the Tigris River, polluting the already unclean water.
Gunmen at Rabiaa, about 75 miles west of Mosul, killed the police chief, Jabbar Khalaf, and four other people as they headed to work.
(McClatchy special correspondents Laith Hammoudi and Qassim Zein contributed to this report.)