A SUICIDE truck bomber slammed into a crowd of Iraqi police lining up for duty near Tikrit yesterday, killing at least 30 people and wounding 50, police said.
The attack came as residents of Baghdad said an American Apache helicopter had gone down north of the city. The US military said it was not aware of any such incident.
Residents reported seeing a missile hit the attack helicopter, which carries two crew, bringing it down in the Timayma area, near Taji, site of a major US air base 20km north of Baghdad.
Minutes after the bombing near Tikrit, a roadside bomb struck a car on a highway on the western outskirts of Tikrit, 130km north of Baghdad, killing two civilians and wounding two others, police said.
The first blast occurred about 8am as police were arriving for work at the Adwar police station, provincial police Captain Abdel-Samad Mohammed said, giving the casualty toll.
He said 21 of the 30 killed were policemen.
The bomber drove a small truck that was packed with explosives covered by hay and the force of the blast caused the building to collapse.
Three houses close to the station, along with municipal offices and the post office, also were heavily damaged.
Local residents who rushed to the scene tried to help with rescue efforts before civil defence squads arrived with shovels to remove the debris and pull out the dead and those injured.
US and Iraqi forces later surrounded the area while recovery efforts continued.
Adwar, about 20km southeast of Tikrit, is where former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was captured on December 13, 2003. Insurgents frequently target Iraqi security forces, accusing them of collaborating with the US.
US military spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Josslyn Aberle said she had no information on a helicopter crashing in the Timayma area.
If confirmed it would be the seventh US helicopter to have come down in Iraq in the last three weeks. The US military has confirmed that at least four of those were shot down after being struck by ground fire and says it has adjusted its tactics accordingly.