World and Nation

Insurgents Set Off Blasts at Checkpoints in Iraqi Cities

Insurgents detonated bombs and threw grenades on Monday at or near six Iraqi police and army checkpoints, in assaults on the most visible deterrents the Iraqi government has to attacks.

Yet, from the viewpoint of Iraqi security officials accustomed to levels of violence unheard of in most of the rest of the world, the deadly attacks were a sign of progress.

After a captured insurgent leader described a truck bomber breezing through several checkpoints on his way to the Finance Ministry last month, the Iraqi government said that vigilance at all the country’s checkpoints would be stepped up. The goal, the officials said, was to stop the killers before they reached population centers and to prevent even more horrific death tolls.

Those same officials acknowledged that Monday’s violence at the checkpoints was also a troubling sign that insurgents remained active and continued to try both to undermine the government’s claims that they are able to provide security and to test for weak spots in the security apparatus.

In the western city of Ramadi, once a stronghold for fighters loyal to the government of Saddam Hussein, a suicide bomber detonated a truck bomb after he was stopped at a police checkpoint just outside the city, killing seven people and wounding a dozen more. At least four of those killed were police officers, and other victims included women and children, according to a local security official.

Security officials said the explosion would have caused more damage had it occurred in a more populous area.

“The attacks will continue,” said Maj. Gen. Tariq al-Asal, the police commander in Anbar province, the largely Sunni region where Ramadi is located.

He noted the difficulty of stopping people determined to blow themselves up. “But the number of victims is limited,” he said, “because the police are capable of foiling the attackers and preventing them from reaching their destination.”

The deadliest attack took place in Karbala, a holy city to Shiites.