22 killed in Iraq suicide bombings

Suicide bombers detonated two explosive-laden vehicles early today near a government compound south of Baghdad, killing at least 22 people and wounding dozens.

The attacks come as Iraq's top political factions start to discuss in earnest whether to ask some US troops to stay beyond the December 31 withdrawal deadline because of the rocky security situation.

While the level of violence is well below what it was during the years that followed the 2003 US-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 The ongoing violence has led to concerns about what happens when the 47,000 remaining US troops are withdrawn.

However violence is rare in the mostly Shiite province of Diwaniyah, which is 80 miles outside Baghdad and well south of most of the insurgent strongholds.

A police officer and two medical officials, who did not want to be named, said the bombers blew themselves up near a compound housing the governor's office and other governmental buildings.

Dozens of people were wounded in the attack, which occurred at about 7.30am when security forces were changing shifts, the officials said. It was not known how many security officials were among the casualties or whether the governor was in the building when the attacks occurred.

The latest major attacks in Diwaniyah were in 2009 when a bomb attached to a bus killed six people, and 2007 when roadside bomb targeted a police patrol, killing seven officers.

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