Iraq police station attack kills at least 52 (Second Lead)

March 8th, 2009 - 8:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Baghdad, March 8 (DPA) At least 52 people were killed and 35 others were 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. Hundreds of men had gathered outside an Iraqi security forces recruitment station looking for work, the police said.

The strength of the blast, which was audible across eastern Baghdad, scattered body parts over a wide area, police and witnesses said. It was the deadliest attack in Baghdad in months.

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, the Ibn Nafis hospital, and other hospitals nearby. Medics said the death toll rose rapidly throughout the day because of the severity of the injuries the wounded suffered.

The recruitment centre had been attacked before. In December 2008, twin bombings left 15 people dead outside the building. And in 2005, two women killed themselves and 40 others when they detonated explosives strapped to their bodies near the station.

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”.

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