Iraqi men inspect the bodies of people killed after a female suicide bomber attacked in Baqouba, Iraq.AP photo
BAGHDAD — A female suicide bomber concealing explosives beneath her black robe struck outside a government complex northeast of Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 15 people and wounding more than 40, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.
It was the 21st suicide mission carried out by a woman in Iraq this year, the U.S. military said, as al-Qaida and other Sunni militant groups try to regroup from major losses suffered at the hands of U.S. and Iraqi forces.
The blast occurred about 1 p.m. as dozens of people were leaving a walled compound that includes a courthouse and the provincial governor’s office in Baqouba, capital of Diyala province and a former al-Qaida in Iraq stronghold 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.
A car bomb across the street from the same compound killed at least 40 people in April.
A U.S. military statement said the dead included seven Iraqi police and eight civilians. Ten police were among the wounded. Iraqi authorities said 16 people were killed and 42 wounded.
Al-Qaida has been increasingly using women because their black, billowing abaya robes easily conceal explosives. Iraqi police often lack enough policewomen to search women carefully.
To the north, a roadside bomb Sunday apparently targeting a police patrol struck a civilian vehicle instead, killing four people, near Kirkuk, police reported.
The violence occurred as U.S. and Iraqi authorities are trying to meet a July target date for completing a security agreement that would allow American troops to remain in the country after the U.N. mandate expires at the end of this year.
Talks bogged down over several key issues, which Iraqi lawmakers said violated the nation’s sovereignty.