Iraq Bombings Outside Provincial Governor's House Kill At Least 21 People

BAGHDAD, June 21 (Reuters) - At least 21 people were killed on Tuesday when bombs exploded at a checkpoint outside a provincial governor's house in central Iraq, the latest attack targeting a government building, local authorities said.

One suicide bomber blew himself up and at least one car bomb exploded outside the Diwaniya governor's house, 150 km (95 miles) south of Baghdad, as guards changed shifts at the checkpoint. Most of the victims were bodyguards, officials said.

"The initial death toll is 21 killed at a guard's checkpoint," Fadhel Mawat, a spokesman for the provincial council said.

Kareem Isghair, the head of the security committee of Diwaniya Provincial Council, said explosions targeted security personal as they were checking in for morning duty.

A source at a hospital in Diwaniya said at least 22 people had been killed and more than 30 wounded in the attack.

Bombings and killings in Iraq have fallen sharply since the height of sectarian violence in 2006-2007, but a stubborn Sunni Islamist insurgency linked to al-Qaeda and rival Shi'ite militias still carry out daily attacks.

Violence has increasingly targeted local security forces and provincial government officials as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw from the country by a planned year-end deadline more than eight years after the invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.

Diwaniya is a poor, mainly Shi'ite region and several of Iraq's armed groups are active in the area.

Gunmen and suicide bombers a week ago stormed a provincial council building in Baquba in central province of Diyala, killing at least eight people before Iraqi forces retook the building with the help of U.S. troops. (Reporting by Aseel Kami and Suadad al-Salhy; writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Jon Boyle)

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.