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Suicide bombs kill 22 in Iraq's Shiite south

June 21, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
At least 22 people were killed in a pair of suicide bombings in Iraq on Tuesday.

The blasts took place near a government compound about 80 miles outside Baghdad. Nearly 40 others were wounded in the explosions in the Shiite heartland.

The attacks took place while security forces were changing shifts. No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts, but Iraqi officials are blaming al Qaeda.

Provincial Gov. Salim Hussein Alwan said he was leaving his house when a suicide bomber rammed into a police checkpoint nearby.

Like most government buildings in Iraq, the governor's house and office are surrounded by walls, and visitors must pass through checkpoints manned by security forces to get inside.

"I had no idea what happened," one security personnel told state television from his bed at the hospital. "I heard only an explosion, flew into the air and went back to the ground," he added as his neck and abdomen were bandaged.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan said U.S. forces, including an explosives ordinance team, were dispatched to assist Iraqis.

The attack comes as Iraq's top political factions began talks on whether to ask U.S. troops to stay beyond the Dec. 31 withdrawal date because of the security situation.

While violence is well below what it was during the years that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, militants are still able to launch deadly attacks. The ongoing violence has led to concerns about what happens when the 47,000 remaining U.S. troops are withdrawn.

The Associated Press contributed to this story


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