Iraq police station attack kills 30 (Lead)

March 8th, 2009 - 7:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Baghdad, March 8 (DPA) At least 30 people were killed and 48 others injured Sunday when a man driving a motorcycle detonated explosives strapped to his body outside a police recruitment centre in the Iraqi capital, the police, witnesses and medics said.
The attack took place near the Ministry of Oil and Water Resources on the major Baghdad thoroughfare of Palestine Street. Most of those killed were waiting to volunteer for the Iraqi security forces, police and witnesses said.

The blast was audible across eastern Baghdad. Witnesses said they heard shots fired after the blast and saw helicopters and ambulances rushing to the scene.

Victims were taken to the Canadian hospital and to Sadr City hospital, police and medics told DPA.

Sunday’s attack was the latest in recent violence across the country. On Thursday, a car bomb south of Hilla, the capital of the central Iraqi province of Babil, killed at least 10 people and wounded 60.

That bombing was quickly followed by a spate of attacks in the ethnically divided northern province of Nineveh, where Iraqi security forces three weeks ago launched a push to flush out the militants, dubbed “Operation New Hope”.

Police General Abdel-Karim Khalaf, chief of operations at the Iraqi Interior Ministry, Sunday warned against viewing the recent spate of attacks as an indication that Al Qaeda had regained its strength.

“Al Qaeda is conducting attacks with no planning and no clear goals,” Khalaf told DPA Sunday. The recent bombings in Mosul “were random, and did not cause as many casualties as did previous attacks”.

A security official, speaking to DPA from Mosul on condition of anonymity, Sunday cast the attacks “as a natural response by Al Qaeda to the recent military operations”.

“They’re an attempt to prove that Al Qaeda still exists, that it continues to operate in full force and that it has operational sleeper cells that can target security forces through car bombs, improvised explosive devices and assassinations,” he said.

The weekend’s attacks followed a series of police raids into what a police source called “hot” neighbourhoods on the west bank of Mosul on Thursday. Fifty-six suspected insurgents were arrested in those raids and two abductees were freed, the police said.

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