22 Killed in Suicide Car Bombings South of Baghdad

By SINAN SALAHEDDIN | June 21, 2011 | 2:18 AM EDT

BAGHDAD (AP) - Suicide bombers detonated two explosives-laden vehicles early Tuesday near a government compound south of Baghdad, killing at least 22 people and wounding dozens, Iraqi officials said.

The attacks come as Iraq's top political factions started to discuss in earnest whether to ask some of the U.S. troops to stay beyond the Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline because of the security situation.

While violence is well below what it was during the years that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, militants are still able to launch deadly attacks. The ongoing violence has led to concerns about what happens when the 47,000 remaining U.S. troops are withdrawn.

Still, such violence is rare in the mostly Shiite province of Diwaniyah, which is 80 miles (130 kilometers) outside of Baghdad and well south of most of the insurgents strongholds.

A police officer and two medical officials said the bombers blew themselves up near a compound housing the governor's office and other governmental buildings. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Dozens of people were wounded in the attack which occurred at about 7:30 a.m. when security forces were changing shifts, the officials said. It was not known how many security officials were among the casualties or whether the governor was in the building when the attacks occurred.

The latest major attacks in Diwaniyah was in 2009 when a bomb attached to a bus killed six people and 2007 when roadside bomb targeted a police patrol, killing at seven officers.

Raises question: What happens when U.S. troops leave?