Nine children were among 12 people killed when a suicide truck-bomber drove into a police station in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk April 2. A further 192 were injured in the blast, and many of the victims were children from a nearby primary school. Local hospitals were overrun with the injured, many of them school children.
In other violence, the handcuffed, blind-folded bodies of 19 kidnapped Shi’ite workers from the city’s Shorja were found north of Baghdad. The workers were kidnapped two days earlier at a fake checkpoint.
US presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, leading a congressional delegation to Baghdad, told a press conference April 1, “I believe that the signs are encouraging, but please don’t interpret one comment of mine in any way to indicate that this isn’t a long, difficult struggle.”
Iraqi government figures estimate civilian deaths caused by violence across the country rose by 13% in March to 1,861. (BBC, April 2) A study by the Dubai-basd Gulf Research Center found suicide bombings against civilians in Iraq have increased dramatically since the start of the year and are deadlier than ever. The GRC found 92 confirmed suicide attacks against civilian targets in February and March compared with 62 in the last two months of 2006. “Since January they have sustained the highest level of suicide attacks since 2005, and higher casualty rates than at any period of the war,” said Nicole Stracke, the report’s editor. (AP, April 2)