Mosul Police Station Rebuilt, Reopens 32 Days After Bombing

MOSUL, Iraq, – Security concerns remained high as local Iraqi police officers and Coalition officials attended a ribbon cutting ceremony last week at the Althaqafa Police Station, celebrating its reconstruction after a suicide bombing nearly five weeks ago, according to Combined Joint Task Force-7 officials.

The Jan. 31 explosion occurred when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated outside the station. The blast killed 10 Iraqi police officers, some of whom were waiting in line to receive their paychecks.

Following the attack on the police station, the 503rd Military Police Battalion took responsibility to complete the statement of work, bid the contract for the construction and provide oversight during building. The 503rd MP Battalion is under the operational control of Task Force Olympia in northern Iraq.

"Our work here shows a continued commitment of the Coalition to help rebuild Iraq so they may become more self-sufficient," said Lt. Col. Jerry Stevenson, commander 503rd MP Battalion.

The station’s outer walls and two outer rooms were damaged and all of the windows were blown out from the explosion. Computers and furniture were also damaged from the shock and a sizable crater was left in front of the station.

Work began immediately to start repairing the damage.

"We wanted to give the Mosul community the message that the police will not stop functioning," Stevenson said. "This will also tell terrorists that the police will not be deterred."

The Commander’s Emergency Response Program, appropriated by Congress to fund humanitarian projects, allowed Task Force Olympia Commander Brig. Gen. Carter Ham to authorize the use of $25,000 to repair the station.

"On Jan. 31, we learned that there are many people opposed to the progress in Iraq," Ham said at the ceremony. "This police station will stand here now as a memory to those police officers who sacrificed for the people of Mosul"

A local contractor, Wameedh and Oday of Mosul, was awarded the contract for reconstruction and local workers completed the project a few days before deadline. Capt. Dan Kuecker, Project Purchasing Officer for Task Force Olympia, said using local contractors helps the Coalition rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure. It provides work for businesses and puts money into the Iraqi economy.

Renovations included clearing debris, repairing the station’s structure, replacing windows, doors and repainting. Security precautions have been implemented in response to the attack, including the construction of an outer concrete fence reinforced with steel and modified traffic patterns. Officers are outside while closed-captioned security systems have been installed to help prevent similar attacks in the future.

Despite being in a neighborhood with high crime rates and having been attacked twice since Jan. 31, the station remains staffed to show the community it’s trying to maintain a safe environment for Mosul.

"Back in May, the citizens had a lot of distrust in the police department," Stevenson said. "We hope to build their confidence by demonstrating the police are there to help the community."

"While it’s unfortunate there have been a lot of wounded police officers, they are fighting for a good cause," Mosul Chief of Police, Mohamad Barhawee, said at the ceremony.

"The people of Mosul can be proud of the chief and all of their police officers who worked so bravely for all of us," Ham said. "Our message to the terrorists is that the police will stand strong and we’ll stand beside them. And we will succeed."