Bomb blasts at an Iraqi police facility have killed at least 35 people and left dozens of others wounded. Continued violence in Iraq comes as newly-empowered U.S. Democratic lawmakers urge a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country.
Twin suicide bombers simultaneously detonated explosives at an Iraqi police recruitment facility in western Baghdad Sunday. Many of those killed were young men waiting to join the police force. Several other deadly bombings and shootings were reported elsewhere in the city.
Meanwhile, security forces continue to search for Sunni gunmen who set up a fake security checkpoint on an Iraqi highway Saturday, killing at least 10 Shi'ite travelers and kidnapping dozens of others.
The latest violence comes amid reports that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki plans to reshape his cabinet. Specific names and posts to be reorganized have not been publicly identified, but the prime minister is widely believed to be dissatisfied with his cabinet's performance in attempting to quell rampant sectarian violence.
In the United States, broad public dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq was credited as a major factor in the outcome of last week's legislative elections, in which opposition Democrats garnered new majorities in both houses of Congress.
The likely incoming Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin of Michigan, says Democrats will press for a gradual withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq beginning next year.
"There is no military solution in Iraq, there is only a political solution in Iraq," said Senator Levin. "And the reason we have to tell the Iraqis that the open-ended commitment is over and we are going to begin to have a phased withdrawal in four to six months is [that] we have got to put pressure on them to do what only the Iraqi leaders can do, which is to work out a political solution."
Senator Levin was speaking on ABC's This Week program.
But the Bush administration continues to insist that setting a timetable for a troop pullout in Iraq would be disastrous for the Iraqi people and gravely imperil the war on terror. White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten also appeared on This Week.
"The important thing is that this be done in a way that the Iraqis can succeed. That we can have a democratic government there that can govern itself, sustain itself, defend itself, and be an ally in the war on terror," he noted. "It is hard for me to see how that can be done on a fixed timetable. It has got to be done based on the conditions on the ground."
Bolten added, however, that President Bush is open to new ideas on how to proceed in Iraq, including from Democrats.