BAGHDAD — Bombings in two central Iraqi cities killed at least 10 people on Monday, with twin blasts near a school and market in a former insurgent stronghold leaving six dead, officials said.
In the city of Fallujah, police chief Brig. Gen. Mahmoud al-Issawi said a parked car packed with explosives blew up at about 11:00 a.m. as police were trying to defuse it. The blast killed two policemen.
About 15 minutes later, the second car bomb exploded about 150 yards away, targeting people who had gathered near the scene of the first blast, Al-Issawi said. That blast killed four civilians and injured 20, including two policemen.
The target was unclear, but both cars exploded near a school and market in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad in the Sunni-dominated Anbar province. The western city was once a capital for Iraq’s insurgency.
Earlier Monday, four civilians were killed and 11 others were wounded when a minibus hit a roadside bomb in southeastern Baghdad, officials said. Among the dead was a 10-year girl.
The casualties were confirmed by two police officers and a hospital doctor, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
Even though insurgents have been weakened across Iraq in the last few years, deadly bombings and shootings still happen almost every day.
At a press conference in Baghdad, the head of the European Union’s legal training program said he understood the Iraqi frustration with the slow strides security forces are making toward protecting the country. Francisco Diaz Alcantud urged patience, noting that more time and resources will be needed to fix what he described as challenges to getting Iraq’s police, judges and prison officials up to speed.
“Some progress has been made, but of course still what remains in front of us are a lot of challenges,” Diaz Alcantud told reporters. “There is room to still do more. We cannot train the whole staff of the Iraqi police.”
Since 2005, the EU’s Rule of Law Mission for Iraq has trained about 4,000 Iraqi mid-to-senior level legal officials — including 267 women — on an annual budget of €22 million. That’s a fraction of the $1 billion the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is seeking from Congress to help train some of the estimated 400,000 Iraqi police forces.
Diaz Alcantud said the Iraq government’s delay in appointing an interior police minister has cast some doubt on Baghdad’s support for the EU mission. “It is important because we need the political backup,” he said, although the government has assured him that “the relationship will not change.”
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Iraq’s parliament are squabbling over whom to name as ministers of the nation’s three top security offices — defense, interior and national security. Until they are approved, al-Maliki is in charge of all of Iraq’s security forces, to the chagrin of his political opponents who accuse the prime minister of using them to his advantage.