A car bomb exploded near a police station in the Iraqi capital early today as dozens of Iraqis were applying to join the force, killing at least 47 people and wounding 114, officials said.
Elsewhere, a hospital official said at least 12 people were killed in a drive-by shooting in Baqubah, northeast of the capital. The vehicle was carrying Iraqi policemen home from work.
The Baghdad blast left a gaping three–metre crater outside the station at the end of Haifa street, a main thoroughfare that has been the scene recently of fierce clashes. Nearby shops and buildings were badly damaged and a dozen cars parked nearby were completely wrecked.
Paramedics and residents picked up body parts scattered across the street and put them into boxes. Anguished men lifted charred bodies and lay them gently on stretchers. Helicopters circled.
Health Ministry spokesman Saad Al–Amili said at least 47 people were killed and 114 wounded.
An Interior Ministry official said on condition of anonymity that a suicide bomber detonated the explosives–packed vehicle next to a cafe by the police station where many would–be recruits had gone to escape the summer heat.
Angry crowds near the site of the blast denounced US forces and interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's government for failing to protect police recruiting centres.
"Such places were targeted before," said Ali Abul–Amir, who was among those trying to join the force but had gone around the corner to buy a drink when the explosion went off.
"I blame Ayad Allawi's government for what happened because they did not take the necessary security measures," he said.
Pumping their firsts in the air, the crowds also condemned US President George W. Bush.
"Bush is a dog," they chanted.
Attacks on Iraqi security forces and police officers – whom the militants denounce as "collaborators" – have left hundreds of people dead since insurgents began a 17–month campaign to expel US–led forces and destabilize Allawi's government.
Militants have specifically targeted recruiting centers to disrupt US–backed efforts to build a strong Iraqi police force capable of taking over security in many towns and cities ahead of nationwide elections slated for January.
Earlier this month, a suicide attacker detonated a car bomb outside a police academy in the northern city of Kirkuk as hundreds of trainees and civilians were leaving for the day, killing at least 20 people and wounding 36.
On July 28, a car bomb exploded outside a police recruiting center in the eastern city of Baqouba, killing at least 68 people. A month earlier, a sport utility vehicle packed with artillery shells slammed into a crowd waiting to volunteer for the Iraqi military in Baghdad, killing 35.
In February, a suicide attacker targeted another army recruiting center in Baghdad, killing 47. Days earlier 53 people were killed in a similar attack south of the capital.
Tuesday's bombing came two days after insurgents hammered central Baghdad with one of their most intense mortar and rocket barrages ever in the heart of the capital, heralding a day of attacks and killings that left at least 37 people dead.Reuse content