BAGHDAD // A bomb concealed in an ice kiosk killed four people and wounded nine others today at a security checkpoint in Baghdad, Iraqi authorities said. North-east of the capital, six Kurdish troops died in a roadside bombing that reflected how ethnic tensions in some parts of Iraq remain dangerously high. The dead, in the attack in eastern Baghdad, included three Iraqi police commandos and a member of a US-funded armed Sunni group that has turned against al Qa'eda in Iraq, police and medics said. Seven Iraqi security personnel and two bystanders were injured.
The Kurdish peshmerga forces, including a brigadier general, died while on patrol in the city of Khanaqin, which lies 140km North-east of Baghdad and near the border with Iran, said Ibrahim Bajilan, head of the Diyala provincial council. Two other troops were injured. Diyala is critical to Baghdad's security because of its strategic importance as a conduit for the smuggling of weapons and fighters to the capital. Its proximity to Iran is also important because US officials have accused Tehran of supporting Shiite militias in Iraq.
Despite security gains, Diyala has a volatile mix of Sunni and Shiite militants along with desert terrain and dense palm groves that provide refuge. A large Kurdish community adds to the mix, and some Iraqi government officials are concerned that forces from the Kurds' autonomous region in northern Iraq are encroaching on territory there. The attacks underscored the persistent threat in Iraq despite significant security gains since last year that have been attributed to the US troop surge and the backlash against al Qa'eda in Iraq by many Sunni insurgents who tired of the extremist group's attacks on Iraqis. A clamp down by the US-backed Iraqi government on Shiite militiamen earlier this year also helped quell violence.
Violence even flares up in places that have largely evaded the war in past years. Yesterday, a car bomb ripped through a crowded commercial district in Dujail, a mainly Shiite town north of Baghdad. Iraqi police said 32 people died and that four of the wounded died in a hospital today, raising the death toll to 36. The US military cited a death toll of 31 Iraqis, including two police. * AP