Suicide bomber kills 20 at police academy

Mon, Feb 20, 2012, 00:00

BAGHDAD – A suicide bomber detonated his car yesterday as a group of police recruits left their academy in Baghdad, killing 20 in the latest strike on security officials.

Police said the suicide bomber was waiting on the street outside the fortified academy near the interior ministry headquarters in an eastern neighbourhood in the Iraqi capital.

As the recruits left the compound’s security barriers and walked into the road, police said the bomber drove toward them and blew up his car.

“We heard a big explosion and the windows of the room shattered,” said Haider Mohammed (44), an employee in the nearby police sports club. He described a horrific scene of burning cars, scattered burned flesh and wounded people flattened on the ground.

“Everybody here knows the time when the recruits come and go from the academy,” Mr Mohammed said. “This is a breach of security.”

Five policemen were among the dead – the rest were recruits. Another 28 recruits and policemen were wounded.

Officials at three nearby hospitals confirmed the casualties.

Iraq’s police are generally considered to be the weakest element of the security forces, which are attacked in bombings and drive-by shootings almost every day. The last big assault on police came in October, when 25 people were killed in attacks that included two bombers slamming explosives-packed cars into police stations.

In findings expected to hike up sectarian tensions, a judicial panel last week said at least 150 attacks and assassinations since 2005 were linked to vice-president Tariq al-Hashemi, Iraq’s highest-ranking Sunni official.

The charges against Mr Hashemi, who has sought haven in the autonomous northern Kurdish region, were first brought in December by the Shia-led government of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. – (AP)