The facade of the police station in the mostly Shi’ite city of Hilla appeared to have collapsed in the explosion, leaving chunks of mortar and cinder blocks strewn in front of the building. Dozens of policemen were killed and wounded and a huge crater was carved into the ground by the blast.
Police vehicles and private cars parked in front of the building were destroyed and some were overturned.
Witnesses say the bomber rammed his vehicle through the police station’s main gate on Thursday morning, just as police were changing shifts.
The head of Babil province’s provincial council, Kazem Majid al Touman, complained that his requests for bomb detection equipment had been ignored by the central government in Baghdad. He blamed the violence on the government:
He said he repeatedly asked the government for bomb detection devices and for 2,000 more policemen, but that Baghdad had issued decrees without taking any effective measures.
The head of the Babil Province security commission, Heidar Zanbour, told an Iraq television outlet that it was the responsibility of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to save the citizens of Babil Province from future violence of this sort.
Middle East expert James Denselow of King’s College London points out that the bombing comes at a critical moment following the U.S. operation that killed bin Laden and the scheduled withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by year’s end.
"This bombing is a reminder at the time of bin Laden's death that one of the legacies of the American invasion of Iraq was al -Qaida establishing a very dangerous and deadly presence in the country that is still a force to be reckoned with today, and that's the element of the ongoing equation concerning whether the Americans will leave entirely by the end of the year or not, which is very much the live question in Iraq, as we speak," said Denselow.
On Tuesday, a car bomb ripped through a Baghdad cafe in a mostly Shi’ite area of the upscale Dora neighborhood. More than a dozen young men were killed as they watched a soccer match.
U.S. officials have been conferring with Iraqi leaders in recent weeks to discuss whether some American troops should remain in the country beyond the year-end deadline for their withdrawal. Some 45,000 U.S. soldiers remain in Iraq, mostly to advise and train Iraqi security forces.
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