Iraq was hit by a new wave of attacks targeting security forces today, killing at least 20 people in Baghdad.
The attacks came a day after a suicide attacker joined a line at a police recruitment centre in the northern Kurdish city of Irbil and blew himself up, killing 60 Iraqis and wounding 150.
They are part of an escalation of violence aimed at destabilising Iraq’s new democratic government. The militants often target Iraqi security forces, which are being recruited and trained by the US-led coalition as part of its eventual exit strategy.
As of Monday, at least 616 Iraqi police had been killed this year, according to statistics compiled by the Brookings Institution in Washington DC.
In today’s worst attack, a man carrying hidden explosives set them off inside an Iraqi army recruitment centre in central Baghdad, killing at least 11 people. Al-Arabiya TV also reported the blast and the same death toll. The US military said it could not immediately confirm the attack.
The explosion occurred at the centre at about 8am (5am Irish time), a police officer said. He said at least six people were wounded in the blast.
The centre is near Baghdad’s main train station and not far from the Green Zone, where Iraq’s parliament and embassies are located and heavily protected by US forces.
In western Baghdad, militants attacked two police patrols, killing a total of nine policemen.
Gunmen opened fire on a patrol in the Al-Amil area at 6.45am (3.45am Irish time), killing eight policemen and wounding two, said police Maj Mousa Abdul Karim. He first reported the blast was caused by a suicide car bomb, but said he realised that was not the case when rescuers reached the scene.
About 15 minutes after the Al-Amil attack, a suicide car bomb exploded in the nearby Al-Gazaliya area, killing one policeman, wounding six and destroying four of their cars, said Karim.
Yesterday’s brutal attack in Irbil, 215 miles north of Baghdad, was the deadliest one in Iraq since February 28, when a suicide car bomber struck a crowd of police and national guard recruits in Hillah, south of Iraq’s capital, killing 125 and wounding more than 140.
The Irbil tragedy left pieces of flesh spattered on the walls outside the police recruitment centre. Nails and shards of metal were packed in with the explosives to maximise casualties.
A Sunni militant group, Ansar al-Sunnah Army, claimed responsibility, saying the attack was revenge for Kurdish co-operation with US forces.
Some 250 job seekers were waiting to be searched outside the recruitment centre when the bomb went off, said police Capt Othman Aziz. An Iraqi militant joined the line and detonated explosives concealed on his body, he said.