BAGHDAD — An attack by three suicide bombers in the northern city of Mosul killed a top police commander there and destroyed the police headquarters on Wednesday morning, adding more unrest to a region already torn by extremist violence.
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The police commander who was killed, Lt. Col. Shamel Ahmed al-Jabouri, had been hailed for taking on terrorist groups in the area. The attack was the sixth attempt on his life, and the second in the past three months, according to a police official.
A week earlier, he had led an assault that killed the man suspected of leading the Mosul branch of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, Munathel Salim.
Mosul, the capital of Nineveh Province, has remained a hotbed of sectarian bloodshed even as overall violence in Iraq has dropped during the past two years.
At 6:30 a.m., three men wearing explosive vests entered a fortified police compound in Mosul on foot, according to the authorities. The first blew himself up inside the concrete blast walls. In the mayhem that followed, the other two bombers ran into the headquarters building and detonated their explosives, killing the police commander in his quarters, according to the head of the provincial security and defense committee, Abdulrahem al-Shemari.
The blasts brought down the building, trapping others inside. Local officials said they did not know how many people had been killed or wounded. But a source at the Ministry of the Interior in Baghdad said four people had been killed by the bombs and the collapse of the building, a one-story structure that had been damaged during attacks in the area in 2006 and 2007.
The continued violence in Mosul has stirred fears that the area will descend into bloody carnage after the remaining American troops leave the country, which by agreement is scheduled to finish by the end of 2011. Earlier in the week, Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying that he would not extend the deadline for troops to leave.
Colonel Jabouri “was a sharp sword against the terrorist groups in Mosul,” said a police official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media about the attack. “We have lost one of our heroes.”
The official said the commander had a long history of battling terrorist groups in the area. Just three months earlier, a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest tried to rush at him in a coffee shop, but the officer’s guards opened fire before the attacker could get close.
Wednesday’s attack came two days after suicide bombers assailed the heavily fortified government compound in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province in western Iraq, another battleground of the insurgency. Both attacks may have been retaliations for recent police operations against terrorism suspects in the regions. In Anbar, where the attack killed at least 14 people, the police had arrested 93 people in the prior week and a half.
Also in Iraq on Wednesday, one Iraqi soldier was killed and five wounded trying to disarm a roadside bomb in Abu Ghraib, a police official said.
Duraid Adnan contributed reporting from Baghdad, and an Iraqi employee of The New York Times from Mosul.
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