At least nine people were killed Monday and several dozen wounded when a suicide bomber in Iraq blew up a tanker truck at an Iraqi government compound in the city of Tikrit, 150 kilometers north of Baghdad.
Most of the victims are believed to be police officers and students. The explosion set off a major blaze inside the complex, destroying parts of several buildings in the hometown of former leader Saddam Hussein.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. One witness told an Iraqi opposition TV channel that the explosion may have been part of an attempt to free prisoners at a police station in the compound.
The blast comes amid intensifying protests by Iraq's Sunni community against the Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Anti-government protests in the mostly Sunni regions of western Iraq are entering their fourth month. Sunni activists want Maliki to step down.
Sunni activists accuse the Shi'ite-led government of arbitrarily arresting Sunni opponents and holding them without charges.
The bombing is the latest incident in a spike of unrest leading up to provincial elections on April 20. Elections in the provinces of Anbar and Ninevah have been postponed by several months because of security threats.