A suicide bombing in Iraq as security handovers continue
The attack, which some say bears the marks of Al Qaeda in Iraq, comes amid other attacks that have been linked to fighting among Shiite factions.
A suicide bomber killed at least 27 Iraqi police recruits on Monday in Baquba, the most damaging suicide attack inside Iraq for weeks and a reminder that while there have been recent improvements in security in many provinces, the insurgency continues.Skip to next paragraph
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The Associated Press reports that the attack happened in the morning as the recruits gathered outside the gates of an Army camp waiting to begin their training day. The paper also quotes an attack survivor as saying that he believes the police have many disloyal members.
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.
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 U.S.-sponsored grassroots strategy that the military says has contributed to a recent drop in violence.
Akram Salman said it must have been an inside job because the suicide bomber apparently was able to penetrate heavy security surrounding the police camp without being searched.
"The police are infiltrated. Many people join the police but they have affiliations with al-Qaida. These infiltrators made it easy for the bomber to attack us," he said. "There are two main checkpoints on the main road leading to the camp, it would be impossible for a man on a bicycle to pass without being properly searched."
Despite the morning's carnage, Agence France Presse reports that the official monthly death toll for October is likely to be the smallest in 18 months.
The statistics compiled by Baghdad's interior, defence and health ministries indicate that 285 Iraqis have been killed since the start of October, including both civilians and security personnel, the lowest since February 2006.
An attack on the Al-Askari shrine in the central city of Samarra that month set off a wave of brutal sectarian bloodletting that killed tens of thousands of people.
US and Iraqi commanders have hailed the declining casualty toll as proof of the success of a joint crackdown on sectarian militias launched in Baghdad and surrounding areas in February.
In another sign of a slightly improved situation, the British Broadcasting Corp. reports that US forces gave security control of the largely Shiite southern province of Karbala to Iraqi forces on Monday.
Karbala is the eighth of 18 provinces to be transferred to local control since the US-led invasion in 2003.
The BBC's Jim Muir, in Baghdad, says that despite the handover the situation in Karbala is far from perfect, with more than 50 people killed in August in clashes between Shia militias and the police.