Iraqi provincial official escapes assassination

The governor of Iraq's western Anbar province on Monday survived at least a fourth assassination attempt in just over a year, escaping unharmed a suicide attack that left six people wounded, police and health officials said.

Gov. Qasim al-Fahadawi, a former businessman who has friendly ties with the U.S. military in Anbar, lost an arm and underwent intensive surgery to rebuild his leg after a suicide bomber struck his Ramadi office in December 2009.

Monday's attack took place in Ramadi, the provincial capital located some 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, when the bomber rammed his car into al-Fahadawi's 12-vehicle convoy.

Al-Fahadawi was not hurt in the blast, but three of his guards and three bystanders were wounded, a police official said. A health official confirmed the casualties.

Anbar province, a Sunni Muslim stronghold that was once infested with al-Qaida, was the birthplace of the government-backed militia known as Sahwa, or Sons of Iraq.

Ramadi has long been a scene of sporadic suicide bombings by al-Qaida against local security and civilian officials, mainly against the government's provincial headquarters. In December, suicide bombings outside the headquarters killed 26 over two days of violence.

Insurgents frequently target Iraqi officials in hopes of destabilizing the government and punishing those who have worked with American authorities. Even so, violence has dropped sharply in Ramadi and across Anbar province since the height of the war between 2004 and 2007, mirroring a similar decrease around the rest of Iraq.