Attackers kill seven in Northern Iraq

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The Independent Online

A suicide bomber in the northern city of Tikrit and gunmen in the Iraqi capital killed a total of seven people today, officials said.

Four people died when gunmen in speeding vehicles opened fire on two security checkpoints in Baghdad, they said.

The incidents happened early this morning in the mostly Sunni neighbourhood of Azamiyah.

At one checkpoint, an Iraqi army soldier was killed when gunmen using weapons fitted with silencers opened fire.

At about the same time, gunmen opened fire on a checkpoint manned by members of an anti-al-Qa'ida militia. Three militia members were killed in that incident, said the officials.

And in Saddam Hussein's home town, the northern city of Tikrit, three people died when a bomb went off outside a checkpoint going into a government compound.

A media adviser to the provincial governor, Mohammed al-Asi, said 15 people were injured in the incident. The top medical official for Salahuddin province, Dr Raied Ibrahim, confirmed the death toll.

Dr Ibrahim said an Iraqi army colonel was killed in the explosion.

A military official in the Salahuddin Operations Command, which oversees security operations in the province, said the colonel was driving into the government compound in a convoy when a suicide bomber driving a vehicle blew himself up near the convoy.

The compound in Tikrit is a collection of palaces and buildings built under Saddam which now serves as a hub for government offices. It has been nicknamed the Tikrit "Green Zone" after the fortified area in central Baghdad that houses many government buildings and embassies.

Bombers often target such entrances and exits to government compounds or buildings, especially during the morning when officials are going to work and cars are often lined up at the entrance.

This morning's attack is the second time in recent days that Tikrit has come under siege.

On Friday, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque inside the government compound, killing 16 people. The mosque is frequented by people living inside the compound so many of those killed or injured were government or security employees.

Hours later, another suicide bomber walked into the Tikrit hospital and blew himself up near the emergency room, where family members had gathered. Five people were killed and 16 were injured in that incident.