Iraqi police say a female suicide bomber attacked a police recruitment center north of Baghdad, killing at least 16 recruits and injuring more than 33 others. Meanwhile, on a visit to Japan, Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, said there is no need to set a timetable for the withdrawal of coalition forces. From Baghdad, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more on the day's developments.
Police say the suicide bomber was a woman, who approached the police recruiting center and then detonated her explosives. The attack took place in Muqdadiya, a mainly Sunni Arab town about 90 kilometers northeast of Baghdad.
There was also violence inside the capital, where security operations are in their eighth week. A bomb exploded near Baghdad University, killing and injuring several people.
Fierce fighting was also reported between U.S. and Iraqi forces and gunmen in the Sunni neighborhood of Fadhil. The U.S. military said two of its helicopters in Baghdad came under small arms fire, but returned safely to base.
The U.S. military also announced the deaths of four more American soldiers killed on Monday. Three died in a roadside bomb blast in Baghdad and the other in the volatile western al-Anbar province. April has been a deadly month for U.S. troops, with nearly 45 killed in the first nine days.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is on a four-day visit to Japan, says there is no need to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
He told reporters progress on the security situation is being made daily and the Iraqis are assuming more responsibility for it. He said he sees no need for a withdrawal timetable, because the Iraqis are working as fast as they can. He added that what will govern the departure of international forces will be how confident the Iraqis are in the handover process and what accomplishments they make, not a timetable.
Monday, thousands of Iraqis protested the continued presence of U.S. and foreign forces on the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. The peaceful demonstration, held in the southern Shi'ite holy city of Najaf, was called by anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The cleric is believed to be in hiding in neighboring Iran and did not attend the protest.
While in Tokyo, Mr. Maliki also secured more than $100 billion in loans for reconstruction projects focusing on the oil, agriculture, water and power sectors.