Suicide bomber kills 27 recruits in Iraq

Updated: 2007-10-29 19:53

BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself up Monday among recruits gathered outside a police camp in Baqouba, northeast of Baghdad, killing at least 27 people and wounding 20, police and hospital officials said.

Map locates Baqouba, Iraq, where a suicide bombing killed at least 27. [Agencies]

In southern Iraq, meanwhile, the US military turned over security responsibilities to Iraqi authorities in the mainly Shiite province of Karbala, the eighth of the nation's 18 provinces to revert to Iraqi control.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the southern province of Basra's security file would be transferred to the Iraqis in mid-December. The British-led forces overseeing the area already have begun drawing down and pulled back from the center of the provincial capital to the airport on the outskirts.

"This is the proof of the strong will and resolve of the good citizens of this nation," al-Maliki said at the handover ceremony in Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad. "The reconstruction of Iraq does not hinge on security alone, but security is the key to everything."

The recruits in Baqouba were waiting to be allowed inside the camp for the day's training when the suicide bomber blew himself up in their midst, according to a police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The attack bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida in Iraq, whose militants have repeatedly targeted police and army recruits to discourage Iraqis from joining the country's nascent security forces.

Mohammed al-Kirrawi, a doctor at the Baqouba general hospital, said most of the victims were struck by iron balls packed with the explosives to achieve maximum casualties. He said the hospital lacked the necessary equipment to save many of the wounded.

"Among the wounded, there are seven in critical conditions and there is little hope that they will survive," he said.

Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, is the capital of Diyala province, where hundreds of Sunni Arab tribesmen and insurgents have in recent months joined the US and Iraqi forces in the fight against al-Qaida.

The attack was the latest to target anti-al-Qaida tribal leaders and other officials in an apparent bid to intimidate them from joining the US-sponsored grass roots strategy that the military says has contributed to a recent drop in violence.

On Sunday, 10 anti-al-Qaida tribal sheiks - seven Sunnis and three Shiites - from Diyala were kidnapped in a Shiite district of Baghdad while driving back home after a meeting with the government in the capital.

A 22-year-old Sunni man from Baqouba's central Tahrir area said he was among a group of some 60 recruits when the blast struck.

   1 2   

Top World News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours