A suicide truck bomber hit a crowded public market in the northern city of Tal Afar late Tuesday, killing at least 17 people and wounding 35, police said. U.S. troops rushed to the scene to treat the injured, officials said.
The attack occurred about 8:30 p.m. in the center of Tal Afar, according to Col. Abdul-Karim Mohammed of the Nineveh provincial police, who gave the casualty figures. The director of the city hospital, Saleh Qado, said 20 people were killed and 70 injured.
Officials said the blast occurred near closing time as people packed the market to finish their shopping. Qado said U.S. medics were providing first aid to the injured on the scene before they were transported to his hospital.
Lt. Col. Ali Rasheed of Iraq’s Interior Ministry said the death toll was between 15 and 20 and the attack occurred near a police station within the market area.
In March, President Bush cited Tal Afar, a mostly Turkomen city 260 miles northwest of Baghdad, as a success story after U.S. troops regained control there last year.
U.S. and Iraqi forces launched an operation in September aimed at cleansing the city of insurgents — the second such attempt in a year.
However, by the end of September, a woman suicide bomber slipped into a crowd of recruits, killing at least six people and wounding 30.
Since then, the city has been hit by several suicide attacks. In October, a suicide bomber plowed his explosives-packed vehicle into a crowded outdoor market, killing 30 and wounding 45.
In March, another suicide bomber struck a joint U.S.-Iraqi military base near the city, killing at least 15 and wounding as many as 30.
A month later at least six people were killed in the city in another suicide attack.