Suicide bomber kills 15 in Baghdad

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The Independent Online

A suicide bomber on a motorcycle struck a checkpoint in Baghdad manned by US-backed neighbourhood guards today, killing 15 people and wounding 29.

Among those killed in the attack in the mainly Sunni Arab Adhamiya district of northern Baghdad was a leader of the neighbourhood guards in the area, Faruq Abu Omar.

The bomber rode to the checkpoint on a motorcycle and then detonated a vest packed with explosives, police said.

"I carried my nephew in my arms to the hospital. He was alive until we reached the hospital and his blood stained my clothes," Abu Omar's uncle, Ahmed Abu Uday, told Reuters by telephone, his voice breaking with tears.

"I carried ten wounded people to the hospital in my car."

The guards, known as "Sons of Iraq", are paid by U.S. forces to protect neighbourhoods in areas where the local tribes have turned against al Qaeda Sunni Arab militants. The militants frequently strike their checkpoints.

"What happened is what we feared would happen, because this area was the stronghold of al Qaeda in Adhamiya. We killed them, we captured them. We destroyed them. And we expected they would seek revenge," said Abu Uday.

Iraq has become far less violent over the past year, but U.S. and Iraqi forces say al Qaeda retains the ability to carry out car bombs and suicide attacks.

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