A suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself up killing at least 28 people and wounding 58 more outside a police academy in the Iraqi capital today in the bloodiest attack in weeks, officials said. The bomber activated his vest as he sped into the crowd in central Baghdad on busy Palestine Street, an interior ministry official said. "The death toll has reached 28 dead and 58 wounded. The majority of the dead were police or recruits," the official said.
Police academies across Iraq have come under repeated attack as al Qa'eda and other insurgents continue to target security forces around the country. Fifteen people died and more than 45 were wounded in two blasts at the Baghdad academy on Dec 1. It is located in a high security area which includes the interior, oil and irrigation ministries as well as army and national police compounds. In August, 25 Iraqis, most applicants to the police force, died in a suicide bombing at a recruiting centre in Diyala province, north-east of Baghdad.
Security had been stepped up at the Baghdad academy to try to prevent further attacks. Palestine Street had been closed to vehicles for security reasons for two years. However one lane had recently reopened with no stopping allowed. Since late 2007, security has improved dramatically in Iraq and that stability, albeit fragile, is behind US President Barack Obama's decision to end combat operations in Iraq within 18 months.
However, attacks remain common in the capital, in confessionally divided Diyala province and around the main northern city of Mosul, which is split between Sunni Arabs, Christians and Kurds. On Thursday, a lorry bomb killed 10 people and wounded more than 50 at a crowded livestock market near Hilla, a mainly Shiite provincial capital south of Baghdad. * AFP