BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber driving an explosives-packed vehicle rammed his way into a barricaded police compound yesterday, killed 20 police officers, and wounded 40 others in the second major deadly blast in Iraq this week.
Iraqi officials have been scrambling to show they are in control of security in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death on Monday, but the uptick of bombings suggests that Al Qaeda-linked groups in Iraq remain a threat despite the death of their ideological patron.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for this bombing or for another on Tuesday that killed nine people in a Shi’ite neighborhood in Baghdad. But the types of targets — Iraqi security forces and Shi’ite Muslims — indicate Al Qaeda in Iraq’s involvement.
“The attack bears the hallmark of Al Qaeda which is renewing its efforts to destabilize the country,’’ said a member of the region’s provincial council, Hamid al-Milli.
The blast in the mainly Shi’ite city of Hillah, about 60 miles south of the capital Baghdad, also underscores Iraq’s fragile security at a time when US forces are preparing to leave the country.
Violence in Iraq has dropped dramatically since just a few years ago, and Iraqi forces have firmly taken over security responsibilities from American troops.
But many Iraqis and US officials question whether the departure of the roughly 46,000 American soldiers still here will leave Iraq more vulnerable to violence.