Scores of Iraqis killed and wounded at recruitment centre in Baghdad

[Ali al-Saadi/AFP/Getty Images] Iraqi soldiers stand guard outside the recruitment centre after the attack.

[Ali al-Saadi/AFP/Getty Images] Iraqi soldiers stand guard outside the recruitment centre after the attack.

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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."

ADD A COMMENT (COMMENT POLICY) * DENOTES REQUIRED FIELD

  • READER COMMENTS

    2010-9-7

    The Iraqi government’s giving up on the support of members of the Awakening in recent times has put these elements in great jeopardy by terrorists, who have found an opportunity to get revenge on the heroes who confronted terrorism and al-Qaeda in Iraq and contributed to restoring the situation to normal, after the government and its security forces had failed to achieve it. Another reason for increasingly targeting members of the Awakening recently is their rejection of the invitation sent to the Awakening by al-Qaeda some time ago to join al-Qaeda and to form a strong front to overthrow the government and kill the Iraqi people. The leaders and elements of the Awakening rejected this invitation firmly and stood by the principles of what is right, and continued to support the legitimate government of the country, to protect the lives of Iraqis and to fight al-Qaeda, despite the disappointment they experienced as al-Maliki’s government neglected to pay their salaries or delayed it for months. Also, the government arrested leaders of the Awakening and made false accusations against them, in order to comply with foreign wishes imposed by the will of other countries on al-Maliki’s government. But the people of the Awakening spoke the truth and made a commitment to the covenant to support Iraq and its people, prompting al-Qaeda to target them strongly and repeatedly in the recent period, in a vain attempt to hurt the Awakening forces and put pressure on them to enter into an alliance with al-Qaeda, and thus achieve their evil goals.

  • العراقي

    2010-9-4

    Because of the security vacuum that resulted from war, some people resorted to Al Qaeda, which led to negative impacts on the country by the terrorist acts. Due to such a security vacuum, it has become easy for those terrorists to move within Iraq among the provinces and to carry out terrorist and subversive acts. But now it has become difficult to move around and carry out terrorist attacks against the Iraqi people, because of the spread of the army and its control being imposed on Iraqi land. Consequently, their terrorist acts diminished and were reduced to a form of detonating a house of a policeman or a minor operation now and then, because they are trained guards from Saddam's intelligence. I confirm that, despite all the training obtained by those people, they are completely eliminated. When you hear some of the terrorist operations in the media, that does not mean their return, but it is clearly an indication of their bankruptcy.

  • ايهاب

    2010-8-26

    The dirty Al Qaeda attacks on the volunteer camps are considered a filthy criminal operation to prevent the youth from joining these brave security services, which have brought different types of torture to terrorism and Al Qaeda, due to the atrocious war led by the Iraqi forces against the Al Qaeda terrorist organization. I don't know the reason behind this determination to target volunteers. They even know that the Iraqi youth will not be afraid of such cowardly acts. On the contrary, the Iraqis are determined today to fight terrorism and Al Qaeda and all persons belonging to it, for the sake of liberating Iraq and getting rid of the evil of this criminal group, which has killed many innocent people on Iraqi territory. I think that what is happening in the volunteer camps is due to the lack of security, together with the laziness of some people responsible for it. This unfortunately leads to a big number of victims and injured persons, because of Al Qaeda’s criminal acts.

  • ابوبكر

    2010-8-25

    Many of those who do not know al-Qaeda’s true face are still repeating the ideology which claims that al Qaeda’s acts are of the Mujahidin when it kills policemen, blows up one of the ministries or causes another bloody day in Iraq. These people think that the terrorist al Qaeda is from the Mujahidin, who want to liberate Iraq. Indeed, this belief is very dangerous, and I consider it a crime, as everybody knows that the terrorist al Qaeda aims at undermining and killing everyone. In fact, we cannot forget that al Qaeda has blown up, killed and ignited sectarianism in Iraq. So how can we say that they are Mujahidin? They are cowardly terrorists, because they kill women, children and everything.

  • 2010-8-24

    Terrorist acts carried out by the Al Qaeda organization in Iraq, together with other organizations, are only criminal acts. They are irresponsible, because they are based on the Takfiri ideology, which is itself based on sectarianism. Personally, I strongly reject this, and all others must reject it, because it affects the Iraqi citizens and it doesn't wish for the wellbeing and peace of Iraq. They explode and kill innocent Iraqi people with these terrorist acts. The Al Qaeda organization, for instance, works for the destruction and sabotage of Iraq. That's why the Iraqi government must fight terrorism, whatever its type and destination, because it affects the interests of Iraq and Iraqis, and it leads them to backwardness, along with killing Iraqi people who are suffering from IEDs that hamper their progress and prosperity.

  • Abu Faris

    2010-8-24

    The terrorist al Qaeda is based on the takfiri and killing ideology, although it claims to be a religious organization that is following the Shariaa, or Islamic Law. It kills people by slaughtering them and blowing them up. These behaviors are immoral and inhuman. All these crimes, which are carried out by terrorist al Qaeda members, such as blowing up, terrorism and killing people, are heinous. Thus, the blowing up of a citizen in a place where there is no security or foreign forces is considered aggression against a citizen who wants to live in peace. Besides, the slaughtering and killing of Iraqis, and the security and police members are considered as the most ferocious, aggressive and shameful crimes. Why do terrorist al Qaeda members carry out such acts, which have nothing to do with Islam, although they claim to be Muslims? Islam is innocent of them and their villain criminal acts, and God will torture them the way they have tortured people.

  • بسام

    2010-8-23

    Iraq has seen a lot of terrorist acts, after those villains have entered and spread death, destruction and sabotage in the country. They also spread assassinations, leaving widows and orphans behind, at a time when Iraq was looking at getting rid of the ex-dictatorial regime. Thus, they wanted to pave the way for a new life where the Iraqi citizen lives comfortably and feels more security and peace in his country.

  • علي العلي

    2010-8-19

    In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate... despite the brutality of the crime, which indicates a criminal evil tendency planted within the perpetrators, and despite the statements of the officials, I would ask: didn’t you see the film disseminated by one of the foreign news agencies, showing a young man among the applicants swearing that he and some of his friends saw the suicide bomber coming out of a Hummer military vehicle, belonging to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, coming inside the ill-fated 11th brigade at Maidan Square, the old location of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense?! Believe me, dears, these are criminal gangsters controlling the people, sponsored by the American occupiers with Iran’s support. They, i.e. the Iraqi government, don’t know about politics and ruling the country, since they have a well-known history of crimes, and they lack the minimum qualifications to rule the country.