Bombers strike Iraq govt building, at least 27 dead

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A car bomb and another explosive device blew up in a crowded parking lot outside a government building north of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 27 people and wounding dozens more, officials said.
The blasts struck a municipal building in the town of Taji, about 20 km (12 miles) north of the Iraqi capital, a day after a wave of attacks on police and soldiers that underscored Iraq’s fragile security as US troops prepare to leave by year-end.
Deputy Health Minister Khamis al-Saad said the Taji bombings killed 27 people and wounded 50. An interior ministry source put the initial toll at 35 dead and 28 wounded.
“It was a double explosion. The first was caused by a car bomb. We have no idea what the second was, whether a suicide bomber or a roadside bomb,” said Raad al-Tamimi, the head of the Taji municipality. “The place was crowded with people who were going to process official papers and with police and employees,” he said.
More than eight years after the US-led invasion that ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq is plagued by a stubborn insurgency that still launches attacks on a daily basis. US military officials say Iraq sees an average of 14 attacks a day.
Militants have targeted Iraqi police and soldiers for months as a way of undermining confidence in their ability to provide security when US forces withdraw by the end of December under a security agreement between the two countries.
Taji, a mixed area of Shi’ites and Sunnis that was once a battlefield for al Qaeda and the Mehdi Army militia, was struck in May by a suicide bomber who killed at least 11 soldiers.
Tamimi said many of the wounded in Tuesday’s explosions were in serious condition at a hospital in the Kadhimiya district of northern Baghdad.
“The hospital is crowded. Relatives of the wounded are in and out. Some of the wounded were transferred to other hospitals,” he said. “The material damages to the building of the district council were minor, like shattered glass, because the explosions were outside the council.
At least 10 police and soldiers have been killed in a wave of attacks across Iraq over the last three days, with at least 22 others wounded.
Militants also launched a Katyusha rocket late on Monday at Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone of government buildings and foreign embassies.
The rocket landed near the well-known Rasheed Hotel, one of the capital’s largest, killing three women and two children and settling ablaze 25 caravans, security officials said.