By Ahmed al-Badrani and Ali al-Mashhadani
RAMADI, Iraq (Reuters) – Three bombs killed at least 16 people and wounded scores more Sunday in Ramadi, capital of Iraq’s western Anbar province, officials said, in the latest in a string of attacks in the vast desert region.
Formerly an al Qaeda stronghold, Anbar has been rocked by bomb attacks in recent months although violence has fallen throughout Iraq to its lowest level in years.
Two parked cars exploded close to Anbar’s provincial government building, and a third blast occurred near the entrance to Ramadi’s main hospital, when a guard opened fire on a suspicious vehicle, the officials said.
“It was a horrible scene. Bodies were scattered, chunks of flesh were everywhere. We evacuated those who were still alive,” said Qassim Ali, a firefighter at the site of the two car bombs.
“There were wounded people crying for help … charred bodies, pools of blood and stains of blood on the walls.”
Major Hussein Ali, an Anbar security official, said at least 16 people were killed and 112 wounded, but a Baghdad interior ministry source put the death toll at 19 with 81 wounded.
Last week, a minibus bomb killed at least nine people and a suicide bomber killed six others in separate incidents in the restive province once under de facto rule of al Qaeda, until tribal militias backed by Washington routed the insurgent group.
(Additional reporting by Khalid al-Ansary in Baghdad, Writing by Mohammed Abbas; Editing by Jack Kimball)