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Suicide bomber at busy market kills 6, hurts 54

BAGHDAD — A suicide car bomber blasted an outdoor market Saturday in a northern Iraqi city, killing six people and wounding 54, police and hospital authorities said.

The attack in the mainly Turkomen city of Tal Afar took place a day after a suicide car bomber struck a convoy carrying former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi in Baghdad. The former Pentagon favorite escaped injury but six people, including five of his bodyguards, were killed.

Saturday's attack occurred in the same Tal Afar market where a suicide truck bomber killed 28 people and injured 72 last month.

That raises questions about whether Iraqi police are capable of maintaining security in the strategic north — where al-Qaida in Iraq remains active — as the Americans hand over more responsibility for security to Iraqi soldiers and police.

Police said the bomber detonated his explosives-laden car near a crowd of people gathered around a traffic accident in the market, which was crowded with shoppers buying food for the traditional evening meal that breaks the daily fast in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The attack against Chalabi took place in the west Baghdad district of Mansour, where Sunni insurgents are believed to maintain a presence despite a sharp increase in security throughout the city.

Chalabi, a secular Shiite who was once considered by Washington as a possible successor to Saddam Hussein, was on his way to his headquarters when the bomb exploded, his office said in a statement. Chalabi fell out of favor after his claims that Hussein maintained weapons of mass destruction proved inaccurate.

Elsewhere in the north, Kurdish security forces raided a house in Irbil province, killed a suspected member of an al-Qaida front group and captured a 17-year-old girl wearing an explosives vest, provincial police said.

The number of female bombers has more than tripled in Iraq, from eight in 2007 to 29 this year, according to U.S. military officials.

>>Fast facts

Iraq may buy F-16s

The Iraqi government is considering a multimillion-dollar purchase of Lockheed Martin F-16s. Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, said Friday that the Iraqi government has asked the Defense Department to supply information on the pricing and availability of 36 F-16s "to enhance Iraqi security forces' future defense capabilities." The sale would require approval by the Pentagon, Congress and the State Department. Ryder cautioned that foreign governments that seek information on pricing don't always follow through with a purchase.

Hearing on death

A pretrial hearing will be held Sept. 20 at a U.S. base in Tikrit for Army Lt. Michael C. Behenna of Edmond, Okla., who has been charged in the death of Iraqi detainee Ali Mansour Mohammed this year, the U.S. military announced Saturday. Behenna has been charged with premeditated murder, assault, making a false official statement and obstruction of justice. A hearing for Army Staff Sgt. Hal M. Warner of Braggs, Okla., who faces the same charges, will be held Thursday in Tikrit.

Times wires

Suicide bomber at busy market kills 6, hurts 54 09/06/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 4:41pm]
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