BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber driving a dynamite-laden truck yesterday destroyed a key bridge on a highway used by the departing US military, while separate attacks killed nine Iraqis, most of them security force members, police said.
No one else died in the blast that ruined the bridge outside the city of Ramadi, which is about 70 miles west of Baghdad, a local police officer said. The highway is used heavily by the US military to transport equipment out of the country. It is also a major roadway for civilian traffic.
The highway links Iraq to Syria and Jordan, where many Iraqis fled to escape sectarian violence.
Also yesterday, an attack on an Iraqi Army convoy just outside of the city of Fallujah killed four Iraqi soldiers and wounded 14, said a police officer in the city, which is about 40 miles west of Baghdad. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity.
A US military spokesman in Iraq’s western Anbar Province, where both Ramadi and Fallujah are located, confirmed yesterday’s explosion on the highway bridge, which was close to two Iraqi military bases that host US troops in the area.
Lieutenant Colonel Curtis L. Hill would not say what effect its destruction might have on US military convoys transporting equipment out of Iraq to meet President Obama’s deadline for a complete pullout of combat troops by August 2010.
The Anbar provincial police commander, Major General Tariq Yousif Mohammed, said he believes the blast was aimed at Iraqis.
Western Anbar Province was once a hotbed of Iraq’s Sunni-dominated insurgency and the scene of some of the most intense US fighting with militants. Violence subsided significantly after local tribes decided to align themselves with US forces instead of Al Qaeda. But attacks have not been halted entirely.
Violence also continued in northern Iraq yesterday. Attackers threw hand grenades at an Iraqi Army patrol near Kirkuk, killing two civilians and wounding two others, a police official said. In Mosul, two police officers and one civilian were killed in three unrelated incidents.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Home office said only 10 of about 40 Iraqis who failed to get asylum in the United Kingdom and were sent back to Iraq were allowed to remain in the country after landing in Baghdad yesterday.
An official at Baghdad airport denied Britain’s claim that Iraq denied entry to some of the deportees, saying the roughly 30 passengers who returned to the UK were minority Kurds who were too afraid to remain in Iraq.