BAGHDAD – Daily News with wires
Iraqi government, President Jalal Talabani, right, meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. AFP photo.
Bombs struck a cafe in Baghdad and remote communities in northern Iraq, killing at least 18 people, as the visiting Iranian foreign minister warned that Iraq's instability affected the whole region.
The blasts came just over a week after suicide truck bombers devastated the foreign and finance ministries in Baghdad, killing about 100 people and dealing a blow to confidence in the Iraqi government's ability to protect the people as U.S. forces scale back their presence.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called on neighboring countries to play a positive role in helping stabilize Iraq, reported by The Associated Press. His comments took on added significance amid a diplomatic dispute between Iraq and Syria over demands that Damascus extradite suspected Saddam Hussein loyalists blamed for the Baghdad ministry bombings.
"The lack of stability and security in Iraq will definitely affect the region," Mottaki said at a news conference with his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari. "All of Iraq's neighbors should work seriously and help Iraq in providing security and stability."
The Iraqi government has blamed an alliance of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Saddam loyalists it says are based in Syria for the Aug. 19 bombings and demanded that Damascus hand over two suspected plotters, raising tensions between the two countries. Iraqi forces have stepped up security in Baghdad and other cities since the truck bombings.
Saturday's deadliest attack was a suicide truck bombing targeting a small police station in the Sunni village of Hamad north of Baghdad, killing at least 12 people, including six policemen, and wounding 15, according to Iraqi officials.
Meanwhile, an attack by gunmen on a police checkpoint east of Baquba, in Diyala province, killed one officer and one civilian. Four police were wounded, reported by Agence-France presse. And in Baghdad, an off-duty soldier was killed and three people wounded, including a fellow soldier, in Adhamiyah, a Sunni neighbourhood in the north of the capital, an interior ministry official said. The same source said two civilians were killed and 13 more wounded when a booby-trapped motorbike blew up in Baghdad Jadida district in the east of the city.
Despite a reduction in violence in the past year, attacks on security forces and civilians remain common nationwide, including in Baghdad, the restive northern city of Mosul and in the ethnically divided oil hub of Kirkuk. Two devastating truck bombings at the ministries of finance and foreign affairs in Baghdad on August 19 killed 95 people and wounded about 600.