BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber blew up his car Sunday outside government offices west of the Iraqi capital, killing 17 people, including women and elderly people waiting to collect welfare checks, officials said.
Six police officers were among the dead in the latest strike on the provincial council compound in the Anbar province capital of Ramadi, police and hospital officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
At least 23 people were wounded in Sunday's attack on the compound, which has been a favorite target for insurgents in the past.
"We rushed out of the office complex and saw many people injured and dead, lying on the street," said Anbar Deputy Gov. Saadoun Obeid, who was at his office when the explosion touched off a fire in the compound. "I saw two women who were dead, their bodies burnt."
Obeid said a traffic jam kept the suicide bomber from driving his explosives-laden car to the front gate but the blast created a crater several yards wide.
Officials immediately blamed al-Qaida in Iraq for the attack in Anbar, a former stronghold of al-Qaida militants and Sunni insurgents that stretches just west of Baghdad to Iraq's borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Police found a second bomb in a nearby parking lot a few minutes later but said they safely disposed of it. The compound in Ramadi, which is 70 miles west of Baghdad, also houses the Anbar police headquarters and the governor's office.
The chairman of the Anbar council, Jasim Mohammed al-Halbusi, put the casualty count much lower, at eight killed and 12 wounded, but said the death toll likely would rise because many of the wounded were in critical condition. Obeid said as many as 57 people were wounded.
Another suicide bomber in Iraq's eastern Diyala province killed a Shiite pilgrim and his son as they headed to a parade of worshipers marking Ashura, an annual ritual for Shiite Muslims.
A follow-up blast wounded eight people, including six policemen, said a Diyala police spokesman, Maj. Ghalib al-Karkhi.