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January 09, 2014

Suicide Bomb Kills 12 at Iraqi Military Recruiting Center

by Edward Yeranian

In Iraq, a suicide bomber has killed at least 21 army recruits and wounded several dozen others outside a military airport near Baghdad.  The attack came as Iraqi security forces are in conflict with al-Qaida linked militants in western Anbar province.

Rescue workers transported casualties to hospitals after the attack outside Muthana Military Airport Thursday.

Military operations chief Sa'ad Ma'an told state television that a “man wearing a suicide vest approached a group of army recruits before detonating the explosives strapped to his body.”

A young man who claimed to have witnessed the explosion said the bomber worked his way into the crowd. He explained that the recruits were lining up to volunteer, since there are few jobs in other fields.

In a speech marking a police anniversary, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki blasted terrorism and countries - which he did not name - that support it.

Maliki said that if certain countries continue to use terrorism as a tool to enslave others, Iraq will face more violence.

The prime minister went on to say that Iraq would “help others who are also battling terrorism” but he did not elaborate.  Syrian opposition leaders have repeatedly accused Maliki, a Shi'ite, of supporting the regime of embattled President Bashar al-Assad in neighboring Syria.

Fighting in Iraq's western Anbar Province appeared to lessen Thursday, with a tense calm settling over the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. Maliki had urged local Sunni tribesman to take the lead in trying to oust militant fighters from the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Sabah Karhout, who heads the Anbar Provincial Council, told al Baghdadia TV that there was “no fighting at the moment in Fallujah and that the situation is now completely calm.”  "More police are being trained to take control of security,” he said.

The Iraqi Army operations commander in Anbar Province, Rasheed Fleih, told reporters that government helicopters had been able to “destroy 60 percent of the [militants'] capabilities through air strikes, so far.”  Prime Minister Maliki called off a ground attack on Fallujah several days ago.

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