At least 15 killed in Baghdad suicide blast

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The Independent Online

A suicide bomber blew up the truck he was driving near a college in a mainly Shiite area in Baghdad today, killing at least 15 people and wounding 27, police and hospital officials said.

The attack occurred about 9.50am at the College of Economic Sciences as students were arriving for class at the campus in the Iskan neighbourhood in western Baghdad, next to warehouses storing food for the Trade Ministry.

The neighbourhood is largely Shiite, but the students are religiously mixed, including Shiites, Sunnis and some Christians.

Haider Hussein, a student at the college who also lives in the district, said the bomber drove a small blue Kia truck into cars parked on the side of the street.

"The explosion was so huge that it broke the windows of nearby offices and houses," he said, adding that 34 parked cars were burned. "I and some other people helped carry five wounded ministry guards to civilian cars that took them to the hospital."

Police said they also discovered a booby-trapped ambulance about 500 metres away and they were trying to defuse it.

The attack was the latest in a series of deadly explosions to hit Shiite targets as Sunni insurgents persist with their campaign of violence despite a new security crackdown in Baghdad.

It came a day after huge car bombs shattered a crowded marketplace in central Baghdad, killing at least 78 people and wounding 166.

Students and academics have frequently been targets of the sectarian bloodletting in the capital.

An explosion outside one of Baghdad's major universities in January killed at least 70 people, most students heading home for the day.