A suicide bomber killed 61 and wounded 133 Iraqis Tuesday morning (August 17th) near an Iraqi Army recruitment centre in the Bab al-Muazam area of central Baghdad.
Iraqi security officials blamed al-Qaeda for the attack.
Lt. Col. Khalid al-Azzawi of the Iraqi Army's 11th Division told Mawtani.com that most of the victims were between 18 and 30 years old and that many of the wounded people were in critical condition.
Al-Azzawi said a suicide bomber wearing an explosives vest made his way through the lines of hundreds of young people gathered to fill out recruitment forms for the Iraqi Army. The bomber was able to reach the front yard of the recruitment centre, where he blew himself up.
"Initial investigations conducted by the Iraqi Army confirm that the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation is involved in the attack," al-Azzawi said. "We have suspicions, which we are trying to verify now, to the effect that the suicide bomber was not Iraqi, but a foreign national."
Maj. Abd Taema Jassim, a security official in Bab al-Muazam, said those killed included a number of Iraqi soldiers organising the applicants into lines to prepare them for interviews.
"We promise the Iraqi people that we will put an end to the lives of criminal killers as soon as possible," he said.
Tuesday was the last day for submitting applications to the Iraqi Army. On August 9th, the Iraqi Ministry of Defence urged young people interested in joining the military to apply at Iraqi Army recruitment centres in Baghdad, al-Habbaniya, Nasiriyah, Kirkuk, Babil, Erbil, and Basra.
Since the announcement, thousands of young people have applied to join the different branches of the military.
"The number of recruits was three times greater than our expectations," said Baghdad Operations Command spokesperson Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta. "The number is also increasing. Many young Iraqis want to join the Iraqi Army."
News of the bombings and the large number of victims left many in Baghdad feeling outraged.
"Al-Qaeda is trying to stop the flow of new and young blood into the Iraqi Army," said Hasan al-Atabi, chairman of the Security and Defence Committee in the Baghdad Provincial Council. "However, they do not know that they will turn the blood of victims into fuel for the revolution of young people against al-Qaeda, its backwardness, and its ugly criminality."
Al-Atabi asked the Iraqi government and Ministry of Defence to declare the victims martyrs and pay compensation to their families. He also said the wounded should be treated at the expense of the government.
"May God curse the terrorists and terrorism," said Abdul Hadi al-Wattar, 40, a resident of Baghdad. "They are killing scores of our sons in cold blood in the month of fasting, during which we should turn to God so that He may accept our repentance."
The bombing also damaged large sections of nearby stores and shattered the windows in a number of buildings.
"We will not give in to al-Qaeda and criminal groups," said Haidar Abbas, owner of a restaurant near the scene of attack.
"We will reopen our stores and wash the sidewalks of our streets. The young people will return tomorrow to recruit anew because Iraq never gives up its war against terrorism."
Khedhr al-Musawi, owner of the famous "Sharbat al-Hajj Zebala" store, also vowed to never give in to the terrorists.
"Al-Qaeda wants to kill our children and destroy our future. They want us to submit to them, to lower our heads, and give them Iraq to be a country of darkness and evil," he said. "However, this is impossible."