Truck bomber kills 23 Iraqi army recruits


A suicide truck bomber killed 23 new Iraqi army recruits when he rammed into their vehicle south of Baghdad today, police said, a day after a huge truck bomb killed 150 people in the north of the country.

Police and army officials said the bomber drove into a truck carrying the Sunni Arab recruits to Baghdad just after they had joined the army in western Anbar province.

They said 27 recruits were wounded in the attack near the town of Haswa. Sunni Arab tribal leaders in Anbar have rounded up thousands of men to join local security forces to fight Sunni Islamist al-Qaeda, partly in anger over the militant group's indiscriminate killing of civilians and harsh interpretation of Islam.

Two car bombs killed eight people in Baghdad, police added. In the northern Shia town of Tuz Khurmato, police and residents used heavy machines and shovels to search for more bodies under the rubble of nearly 100 shops and homes in the wake of yesterday's massive truck bomb blast.

Across the town, relatives mourned and buried their dead. "I can't comprehend what has happened. My entire family was killed in one moment," said Abbas Kadhim, who said the blast levelled his house, killing his wife, his two sons aged 6 and 8, his parents and also a brother.

"There is no value left in my life ... I have asked God why I didn't just die with them so I wouldn't have to go through this torture." The death toll of 150 made it the second deadliest insurgent bombing in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003.

In March, a truck bomb attack also blamed on al-Qaeda killed 152 people in the northern town of Tal Afar. The surge in bombings comes despite a major US and Iraqi military offensive that has focused largely on Baghdad and the beltways around the capital, where US commanders believe a lot of car bombs are put together.

The offensive has driven many militants out of Baghdad to areas where the troop presence is not as heavy.

US officials blame most big car bombings on al-Qaeda, which they say is trying to trigger civil war between Iraq's majority Shias and minority Sunni Arabs.