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Page last updated at 10:41 GMT, Saturday, 11 April 2009 11:41 UK

Suicide bomber kills Iraqi Sunnis

Emad Shanna, one of those injured by the suicide bomb at a hospital in Hilla.
Attacks in Iraq have been rising recently

A suicide bomber has attacked a US-allied Sunni militia group in Iraq, killing at least nine people and wounding 31 others, police say.

The bomber struck as militiamen from a local Awakening council were waiting to collect their salaries at an army post in Iskandariya, south of Baghdad.

The US-sponsored Awakening councils have helped cut violence in Iraq after turning against al-Qaeda.

But this has made them a target for militants, correspondents say.

The bomber in Iskandariya was wearing a belt of explosives, which he detonated after mingling with militiamen who had gathered to receive their monthly pay, security sources say.

The town, about 50km (30 miles) south of Baghdad, is located in an area that used to be known as the "Triangle of Death" because it was so troubled.

Concerns

Relations betwen the councils and Iraq's Shia-led government - which formally took control of the Awakening movement on 1 April - have worsened in recent weeks.

Last month the arrest of a leader of one of the councils in Baghdad sparked clashes between militiamen and government forces.

The past week has seen a number of attacks in Baghdad and Mosul to the north.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says the upsurge has raised concern, especially as US troops are preparing to withdraw in the coming months.

But the general picture is that the security situation remains much better than it was two years ago, our correspondent says.



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