BAGHDAD — A woman wearing a suicide vest blew herself up Monday at a coming-home party for an Iraqi police sergeant detained by U.S. forces for almost a year, killing 22 people and wounding 33, a high-ranking official said.
The party was thrown for Adnan Shukri al Timimi at his house, not far from the police station in Balad Ruz, a city 30 miles southeast of Baquba, the capital of Diyala province. Timimi was killed along with his parents and 11 high-ranking police officials, including the chief of the local station, said the official in the Iraqi-led Diyala Operations Center, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Also killed were at least eight children, some of them related to Timimi.
It was not clear what Timimi had been charged with, but police said he'd been accused of collaborating with an Iranian-backed militia. Police said he'd been detained at the U.S.-run Camp Bucca, a detention center in Basra, but the U.S. military did not confirm that.
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The agriculturally rich, religiously mixed Diyala province saw some of the most vicious sectarian fighting of the last five years. The province remained a stronghold for the terrorist group al Qaida in Iraq even after its leader, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, was killed there in 2006.
Iraqi security forces backed by the U.S. military flooded Diyala in midsummer for Operation Glad Tidings, arresting members of AQI and other insurgents and tightening the border with Iran. That operation is ongoing, and while military patrols rarely come under direct fire, police continue to be targeted by roadside bombs and suicide bombers. At least 12 female suicide bombers have blown themselves up in Diyala in the last eight months, many believed to have al Qaida in Iraq connections.
"Al Qaida does remain lethal and dangerous, and we have seen that," Gen. David Petraeus, the outgoing commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, told McClatchy last month. "We are reminded of that by . . . you know, most recently, suicide vest attacks by women. But obviously al Qaida is enormously diminished by any measure that you want."
At a media conference last week, the Iraqi minister of defense, Abd Al-Qadir Al Ubeidi, mentioned Balad Ruz in particular as one of the areas in Diyala that had been "cleansed" during the recent operation.
(Spangler reports for The Miami Herald. Dulaimy is a McClatchy special correspondent in Baghdad. A McClatchy special correspondent in Diyala contributed to this article but is not named for security reasons.)
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