The death toll from a suicide car bombing in Tal Afar, Iraq, has risen to at least 22 people, according to the Associated Press. The Tuesday bombing occurred shortly after 8 p.m. and wounded more than 130 other people, U.S. military officials said.

Many of those wounded were treated at U.S. military medical facilities after the Tal Afar Hospital became overwhelmed by the number of injured. U.S. soldiers from the Germany-based 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division treated more than 60 of the bombing victims.

According to Task Force Band of Brothers officials, 24 of the Iraqi bombing victims were listed in critical condition and were transported by American aircraft to combat support hospitals in Mosul and Tikrit.

Iraqi army units and Tal Afar municipal emergency services teams treated many of the other wounded at the site of the bombing, a market in the downtown of the ancient city.

Attacks in Tal Afar have increased in recent weeks, with some U.S. commanders attributing that rise to President Bush’s repeated citations of the city as a model of success in Iraq. In one of a series of speeches this spring, Bush said Tal Afar is a “free city that gives reason for hope for a free Iraq.”

Officials in 1st Armored Division have said insurgents would likely step up attacks to disprove that contention. Earlier this week, a 1st AD soldier was killed when troops were clearing a building from which they’d received small-arms fire.

Last month, in the single largest military operation waged in this ancient city since armored cavalry units recaptured it from insurgents last fall, U.S. and Iraqi troops cordoned off an entire neighborhood and rounded up nearly 100 suspected insurgents.

The operation was largely in response to a series of roadside bombings and ambushes waged over the previous several weeks.

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