Suicide bomber kills 27 in Iraq

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A suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself up in Iraq today among recruits gathered outside a police camp, killing at least 27 people and wounding 20, police and hospital officials said.

The recruits were waiting to be allowed inside the camp in Baqouba, north-east of Baghdad, for the day's training when the suicide bomber blew himself up in their midst, according to a police officer at the scene.

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 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 north-east 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.