Insurgents kill 6 Iraqi police

The car bomber crashed through the gates of the police station in an apparent effort to hit the main building.

But the vehicle was stopped by a volley of gunfire, prompting the bomber to detonate the vehicle just shy of his goal.

Near Samarra, north of Baghdad, two officers were killed when a gang of some 40 gunmen attacked a police checkpoint.

An indefinite curfew was imposed on the city of Samarra, in the wake of the apparently coordinated assaults.

Samarra was once a major centre of the anti-US insurgency in Iraq.

Over the past year, US forces surrounded much of the city with a massive wall to control access, resulting in a marked decline in violence.

Meanwhile in Baghdad, a bomb blast shattered the early morning calm, exploding next to a major metropolitan bus station and killing two civilians, said a security official.

The official suggested that the bomb, which was planted next to al-Nahda bus station, was targeting a passing group of police, two of whom were wounded, along with five other passersby.

Health ministry attacked

Gunmen opened fire on Iraq’s Shi’te-run Health Ministry building in central Baghdad, for the second time in a week, officials in the building told Reuters
as gunfire sounded in the background.

Deputy Health Minister Hakim al-Zamily said two mortar rounds exploded nearby and gunmen were continuing to fire on the building as security forces attempted to repel them.

He said the raid was much more limited that last Thursday’s attack, when five people were wounded in hours of clashes at the ministry.

“They are attacking with light weapons and medium weapons,” ministry spokesman Qasim Abdul Hadi said, adding that staff were pinned down by rifle and machinegun fire and feared snipers.

Health Minister Ali al-Shemari, from the movement of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, said he was not at the ministry but confirmed reports from his officials of the attack.

A source at Baghdad police headquarters said there had been a clash and that the assailants had been driven off.

Shortly after last week’s attack a multiple car bomb and mortar attack on Sadr City, stronghold of Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia, killed over 200 people in the bloodiest attack since the US invasion.

Health Ministry officials blamed militants from a nearby Sunni enclave in mainly Shi’ite east Baghdad for the previous attack on their headquarters.