Iraq: At least 11 killed in blast as PM sacks Sunni official over rape row
A suicide car bomber struck a police checkpoint near a market Wednesday in the Shiite city of Najaf, killing at least 11 people and injuring 43, police and hospital officials said. The blast occurred about 10:30 a.m. as the area in central Najaf was filled with shoppers.
Police reinforcements arrived after the explosion and sealed off the scene.
Dr Riyadh al-Shibli from a local hospital said at least 11 people were killed.
Captain Hadi al-Najafi, an explosives expert, told Reuters police had been searching the bomber's car when it exploded. He said four policemen and three civilians, two of them women, were killed.
Meanwhile, Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sacked a top Sunni official Wednesday after he called for an international investigation into the rape allegations leveled by a young Sunni woman against three members of the Shiite-dominated police forces.
A statement by al-Maliki's office confirmed the dismissal of Ahmed Abdul-Ghafour al-Samaraie, head of the Sunni Endowments. Al-Samaraie had joined other prominent Sunni figures in criticizing the government's handling of the case.
Al-Samaraie disputed al-Maliki's right to fire him, arguing that only Iraq's Presidential Council has that authority. According to the AP, he said the woman who made the rape allegations was one of many who had sexually assaulted by the security forces. "Many girls are raped but they refuse to appear in the media so as not to tarnish their reputations," he said.
On his part, Al-Maliki has said the rape allegations were being used by his critics to discredit the security forces and undermine a major, U.S.-led Baghdad crackdown.