Car bomb kills 4 north of Baghdad

21 more wounded in blast near restaurant and coffee shop in Baqouba

Published July 19, 2010 6:15PM (EDT)

Police say a car bomb has killed four Iraqis and wounded 21 more in a one-time insurgent stronghold northeast of Baghdad.

Police and hospital officials said the blast occurred Monday evening near a restaurant and coffee shop in Baqouba. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Baqouba is 35 miles (60 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad. It was once controlled by al-Qaida in Iraq before a series of U.S.-Iraqi offensives led to a drop in violence.

The attack came hours after another car bomb killed a British contractor in Mosul, about 225 miles (360 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

Violence has dropped sharply since the height of Iraq's insurgency in 2007, but insurgents still wage attacks aimed at destabilizing Iraq's government.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BAGHDAD (AP) -- A British national died Monday when an explosives-laden car blew up near his convoy in the northern city of Mosul, said the British Embassy in Baghdad.

In Baghdad, gunmen on a speeding motorcycle gunned down one of Iraq's top judo athletes while he stood at a bus stop.

The northern city of Mosul, 225 miles(360 kilometers) is a former insurgent stronghold and still the scene of frequent car bombs and driveby shootings, often targeting members of the security services. Private security convoys, often easily identifiable by their distinctive, armored SUVs, are also favorite targets.

A Mosul police official said an explosive-laden car blew up close to the convoy of foreign security vehicles in the eastern part of the city during the morning rush hour. Five civilians were also wounded.

In Baghdad, Ali Mohammed Fakhir, a national judo champion, was waiting for a bus in the northeastern neighborhood of Shula when gunmen on a motorcycle shot him in the chest and stomach, Iraqi police and sports officials said.

He was headed to the Police Sports Club in eastern Baghdad for training when he was killed, an official at the club said.

Fakhir was a member of Iraq's National Judo team and won the youth championship in the 81 kilogram weight class three years ago. He died in a hospital from his wounds, police said.

Athletes have been targeted in attacks and kidnappings before by extremists and insurgents in Iraq. In one the most brazen attacks on athletes, two members of Iraq's national tennis team and their coach were shot dead in Baghdad in 2006 for wearing shorts a few days after leaflets appeared warning people against wearing un-Islamic clothes.

In Fallujah, a member of a government-backed, anti-al-Qaida militia was killed after a bomb attached to his car exploded, police officials said.

The attack on the prominent member of the Sunni group know as the Awakening Councils comes a day after almost 50 of its members were killed in two suicide attacks targeting the group.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

By Barbara Surk

MORE FROM Barbara Surk

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Iraq Terrorism