BAGHDAD — A suicide truck bomber targeting a senior police officer's convoy in Iraq killed eight people, including the ranking official, authorities said Saturday.
The attack happened late Friday when the suicide attacker drove his bomb-laden truck into the convoy of police Lt. Gen. Faisal Malik, who was inspecting troops in the town of Beiji, police said. The blast killed Faisal and seven police officers, while wounding 15 people, hospital officials and police officers said.
No one immediately claimed the attack, which comes as Iraqi forces backed by U.S.-led airstrikes battle the Islamic State group, which now holds a third of the country.
Beiji, home to Iraq's largest oil refinery, is 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Baghdad.
A U.S.-led coalition has been launching airstrikes on Islamic State group militants and facilities in Iraq and Syria for months, as part of an effort to give Iraqi forces the time and space to mount a more effective offensive. Early on, the Islamic State group had gained ground across northern and western Iraq in a lightning advance.
On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama authorized the deployment of up to 1,500 more American troops to bolster Iraqi forces, including into Anbar province, where fighting with Islamic State militants has been fierce. The plan could boost the total number of American troops in Iraq to 3,100. There now are about 1,400 U.S. troops in Iraq, out of the 1,600 previously authorized.
"What is needed from the U.S. is that it should work to bring the Iraqi people together," said Hamid al-Mutlaq, a Sunni Iraqi lawmaker. "America, and others, should not become an obstacle that hinder the Iraqis' ambitions for a free Iraqi decision that serves the interests of Iraq"
Meanwhile Saturday, a series of bombings in and around the capital killed at least 25 people. The deadliest attack took place on a commercial street in Baghdad's southwestern Amil neighborhood, where two car bombs killed eight people and wounded 16, police officials said.
In the southeastern neighborhood of al-Amin, at least nine people were killed and another 18 wounded when a car bomb tore through a commercial street lined with restaurants. In Yousifiya, a town just south of the capital, two people were killed and four wounded in a bombing near a fruit and vegetable market. Another car bomb struck Zafaraniya in southeastern Baghdad, killing six and wounding 13, officials said.
Hospital officials confirmed the casualties. All police and hospital officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.
Associated Press writer Vivian Salama contributed to this report.