June 13, 2011 / 6:48 AM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Suicide bomber kills 5 in Iraq's southern Basra port

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BASRA, Iraq, June 13 (Reuters) - A suicide bomber blew up an explosives-filled vehicle at the entrance to a police unit in Iraq’s southern oil port of Basra on Monday , killing five people and wounding 15, police and officials said.

The large explosion damaged the building and destroyed or damaged several vehicles at the main gate of the compound belonging to a police rapid reaction unit. All of the casualties were police personnel.

“It was a suicide car bomb ... The bomber tried to drive into the compound but guards shot at him after he failed to stop and he detonated his vehicle,” Ali Ghanem al-Maliki, the head of the Basra provincial council security committee told Reuters.

At least four bodies were brought to a local hospital, health officials said.

Basra, which handles the bulk of Iraq’s oil exports, has generally seen less attacks this year than other cities in the country following an overall decline in levels of violence since the peak of sectarian conflict in Iraq in 2006-2007.

Earlier this month, a bomb attack on an oil storage depot near the Zubair oilfield in Basra set one oil storage tank ablaze, but caused no casualties. [ID:nLDE754011].

The last major attack in Basra occurred in March, when a roadside bomb targeting a U.S. military convoy exploded near a civilian bus, killing six people and wounding a dozen.

U.S. and Iraqi military officials say they believe attacks may rise ahead of a year-end deadline for the withdrawal of the last remaining U.S. troops in Iraq, although Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is considering requesting that some U.S. military stay on in a training and advisory role.

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