BAGHDAD (AP) — A suicide bomber in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit and gunmen in the country's capital killed a total of eight people on Monday morning, demonstrating the simmering violence that threatens Iraq's stability.
In Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, four people died when a bomb went off outside a checkpoint going into a government compound. It was the second attack in four days against the compound and the government employees who live and work there.
A media adviser to the provincial governor, Mohammed al-Asi, said four people were killed in the incident. A doctor at the Tikrit hospital, Ali Awad, confirmed the death toll and said 23 people were wounded.
The top health official for Salahuddin province, Dr. Raied Ibrahim, said an Iraqi army colonel was killed in the explosion.
A military official in the Salahuddin Operations Command, which oversees security operations in the province, said the colonel was driving into the government compound in a convoy when a suicide bomber driving a vehicle blew himself up near the convoy.
The compound in Tikrit is a collection of palaces and buildings built under Saddam that now serves as a hub for government offices. It has been nicknamed the Tikrit "Green Zone" after the fortified area in central Baghdad that houses many government buildings and embassies.
Bombers often target such entrances and exits to government compounds or buildings, especially during the morning when officials are going to work and cars are often lined up at the entrance.
Monday morning's attack is the second time in recent days that Tikrit has come under siege.
On Friday, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque inside the government compound, killing 16 people. The mosque is frequented by people living inside the compound so many of those killed or injured were government or security employees. Hours later, another suicide bomber walked into the Tikrit hospital and blew himself up near the emergency room, where family members had gathered. Five people were killed and 16 were injured in that incident.
In Baghdad, Iraqi officials said four people died after gunmen in speeding vehicles opened fire on two security checkpoints. The incidents happened early in the morning in the mostly Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah, said a military and a medical official.
At one checkpoint, an Iraqi army soldier was killed when gunmen using weapons affixed with silencers opened fire. At about the same time, gunmen opened fire on a checkpoint manned by members of an anti-al-Qaida militia. Three militia members were killed in that incident, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Seven people were wounded in a separate incident in Azamiyah when a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol blew up, police and hospital officials said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Associated Press writer Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed to this report.