BAGHDAD - In the wake of a series of attacks against policemen, and amid fears that the relative calm that has prevailed in Iraq over the past few months is on the verge of collapse, a suicide bomber targeted the main entrance of the police academy in Baghdad on March 8, killing 28 people and injuring dozens more. The attack was the second of its kind in the country in the past three days.
According to initial reports, the bomber was riding a bicycle or a motorcycle when he threw himself into a crowd of recruits waiting to enter the academy. Iraq’s interior minister did not confirm the method used to carry out the attack.
The chaos that followed the attack led to conflicting reports on the number of casualties. Two medical officials told Gulf News that more than 30 people were killed and more than 60 wounded. The Ministry of the Interior, however, said the death toll was 28 with 57 injured. Reports also said that eight policemen were killed in the attack, along with a number of volunteers.
Despite the decline in the rate of violence across the country in recent months, police officers have always been targets for militants in Iraq. Baghdad Academy was attacked on Dec. 1 last year when two gunmen killed 15 people and injured 45. Palestine Street, a main road in central Baghdad, has been closed to vehicles since 2007 for security reasons.
Thus far no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, though suicide bombings and car bombs are often linked to Al-Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgents who seek to undermine public confidence, especially after the success of local elections earlier this year. Gunmen may also be trying to undermine confidence in light of the security gains that caused a significant decline in violence over the past few months.
[Al Jazeera website, Gulf News newspaper]