A suicide car bomber killed at least six people and wounded 31 when he detonated explosives in an attack on Iraq’s interior ministry in Baghdad, police and hospital sources said on Monday.
The blast followed Thursday’s wave of explosions that killed at least 72 people in Baghdad in the first such attacks since a crisis erupted between Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government and Sunni rivals just days after the last U.S. troops withdrew.
The bomber drove his vehicle into a security cordon outside the ministry on Monday, detonating an explosion that left dead and wounded on the ground and set fire to nearby vehicles in central Baghdad, police said.
“When I went outside I found my colleagues, some of them were killed, others were on the ground, many cars were burned, the policeman on the watchtower looked like he was killed when he was hit in the head,” Zaid Raheem, a police guard, said.
Six people, including four policeman, were killed and 34 others were wounded, police said.
Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki a week ago sought the arrest of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and asked parliament to fire his Sunni deputy Saleh al-Mutlaq, triggering turmoil that threatens Iraq with a new wave of sectarian strife.
A senior police source said authorities believed insurgents were targeting the ministry because of the announcement of the arrest warrant for Hashemi.
He has left Baghdad for semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, where he is unlikely to be handed over to central government officials immediately.
Thursday’s explosions across the Iraqi capital targeted mainly Shi’ite areas and included at least one suicide car bomb and multiple roadside bombs.
Just a week after the last U.S. troops left, the crisis threatens to scuttle an uneasy power-sharing government that splits posts among the Shi’ite National Alliance coalition, the mostly Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc and the Kurdish political movement.
U.S. officials, diplomats and Iraqi politicians have been in talks to end the dispute that threatens to push Iraq back into the kind of sectarian violence that took the OPEC member to the edge of civil war a few years ago.