Twin suicide bombings killed 48 people today, including dozens from a government-backed, anti-al-Qaeda militia who were lined up to get their paychecks near a military base southwest of Baghdad, Iraqi officials said. The bombings were the deadliest in a series of attacks across Iraq today aimed at the Sons of Iraq, a Sunni group also known as Sahwa that works with government forces to fight al-Qaeda. The attacks highlighted the stiff challenges the country faces as the US scales back its forces in Iraq.
The first attack this morning killed at least 45 people and wounded more than 40. In the second attack, a suspected militant stormed a Sahwa headquarters near the Syrian border and opened fire. Sahwa fighters returned fire, wounding the attacker, who then blew himself up as they gathered around him, killing three fighters and wounding six others. In a third attack, gunmen in a speeding car opened fire on a Sahwa checkpoint about 35 miles south of Baghdad, wounding one. The Sahwa fighters have played a key role in the reduction of violence in Iraq since they first rose up against their former al-Qaeda allies in late 2006.