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Deadly Suicide Bombing Targets Iraqi Military Recruits - 2004-06-17


In Baghdad, a car packed with artillery rounds blew up in front of a recruitment center for an Iraqi military security force, killing at least 35 people and wounding more than 100. The attack, believed to be a suicide bombing, is the latest in a string of deadly attacks in Iraq that officials say are aimed at disrupting the transfer of power from the U.S.-led administration to an Iraqi interim government July 1.

Residents of Baghdad woke up for the second time this week to a horrific scene of violence. The target this time was a recruitment center for the coalition-trained Iraqi Civil Defense Corps security force.

Witnesses say a white sport utility vehicle raced toward the front gate of the center, where a crowd of about 100 people stood in line waiting to enter the building.

As it neared the gate, the vehicle exploded, throwing bodies, body parts, and metal along a nearby four-lane road. The force of the blast hurled a car into the center of the roadway.

There were no coalition troops in the area, and the U.S. military says no Iraqi army recruits were hurt because they were inside the building. Most of the dead and wounded are believed to be people who had just gotten off a bus near the recruitment center when the bomb exploded.

An injured Iraqi recruiting officer, badly bleeding from his head, arms and shoulders, says he was hit by flying metal and concrete as he stood outside the building.

The officer, who declined to be identified, says he believes Iraqis are being paid to be suicide bombers for foreign Islamic militants, who are determined to turn Iraq into a graveyard.

The officer said what is happening in Iraq is against the teachings of Islam and all religions. " How can the Iraqis who do this believe this is resistance?" he asks, "all they do is to kill their own people."

Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi visited the scene of the bombing and called it a cowardly attack aimed at creating instability in Iraq. He blamed foreign countries, which he did not name, and said they will not succeed in derailing Iraq's progress toward peace and stability.

"This is an escalation that we have been expecting. We are going to face these escalations," he promised. "We are going to face the enemies of Iraq and the Iraqi people are going to prevail.

Monday, a car bomb killed 11 people, including five foreign contractors, and wounded more than 60 when it ripped through Baghdad's commercial district during morning rush hour.

Insurgents have also attacked interim government officials and sabotaged Iraq's oil industry in what coalition and Iraqi officials describe as desperate efforts by insurgents to try to prevent the handover of power to an Iraqi government on July 1. The officials say the transfer will go on as scheduled regardless of the violence.

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