More than 100 killed as bomber targets Iraq job-seekers

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The Independent Online

At least 106 people were killed today when a suicide car bomber blew himself up in a crowd of police and Iraqi national guard recruits south of Baghdad, police and witnesses said.

At least 106 people were killed today when a suicide car bomber blew himself up in a crowd of police and Iraqi national guard recruits south of Baghdad, police and witnesses said.

Babil province police said a further 133 people were wounded in the blast in Hilla, about 60 miles south of Baghdad. That would make it one of the deadliest single attacks since George Bush declared the war over in May 2003.

"A suicide car bomb hit a gathering of people who were applying for work in the security services. The incident led to the death of 106 people and injury of 133 citizens," police reported in a statement.

It added that "several people" were arrested about the blast. It did not elaborate.

"People were queuing up to be checked medically in order to become policemen. A car came ... and exploded, killing more than 50 people, more than what you expect," Ammar Mosa, a witness told Associated Press Television News.

Dia Mohammed, the director of Hilla General hospital, most the victims were recruits waiting to take physicals as part of the application process to join the Iraqi police and national guard.

The blast came a day after Iraq announced the capture of a key insurgent leader in neighboring Syria.

A second car bomb exploded today at a police checkpoint in Musayyib, about 20 miles north of Hillah, killing at least one policeman and wounding several others.

The twin attacks came a day after Iraqi officials announced that Syria had captured and handed over Saddam Hussein's half brother, a most-wanted leader in the Sunni-based insurgency, in the latest in a series of arrests of important insurgent figures that the Iraqi government hopes will deal a crushing blow to violent opposition forces.

The arrest of Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan also ended months of Syrian denials that it was harboring fugitives from the ousted Saddam regime. Iraq authorities said Damascus acted in a gesture of goodwill.

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