Suicide bomber kills 15 in attack on primary school in Iraq


MOSUL, Iraq, Oct 6 (Reuters) - A suicide bomber drove atruck packed with explosives into the playground of a primaryschool in northern Iraq and blew himself up, killing 14 studentsand their headmaster on Sunday, police and medical sources said.

The attack followed a suicide bombing minutes earlier on apolice station in the same town, Tel Afar, about 70 km (45miles) northwest of Mosul city, where Sunni Islamist and otherinsurgents have a foothold. There were no casualties in thepolice station attack.

"We were exposed to two big explosions today in which dozenswere killed or injured. The first was a truck bomb targeting apolice station and the second was detonated inside the primaryschool," the mayor of Tel Afar, Abdul Al Abbas, told Reuters.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for either ofthe bombings, but such attacks are the hallmark of SunniIslamist al Qaeda, which views Shi'ites as non-believers and hasbeen regaining momentum this year.

The majority of Tel Afar's residents are from Iraq's Shi'iteTurkman minority, which in recent years has been the target ofkillings and kidnappings.

"The fingerprints of al Qaeda are clear on both attacks,"said an official in the town who declined to be named.

More than 6,000 people have been killed in violence acrossthe country this year, according to monitoring group Iraq BodyCount, reversing a decline in sectarian bloodshed that hadclimaxed in 2006-07.

Al Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate was forced underground in 2007when Sunni tribesmen found common cause with U.S. troops andfought the group, but it has re-emerged this year invigorated bygrowing Sunni resentment of the Shi'ite-led government.

Relations between Islam's two main denominations have comeunder acute strain from the conflict in Syria, which has drawnSunnis and Shi'ites from Iraq and the wider Middle East into asectarian proxy war.

At least 60 people were killed on Saturday in two suicidebombings targeting Shi'ite.

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