- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 6, 2012

BAGHDAD — A car bomb at the entrance to an Iraqi army base where new recruits were massed killed at least 25 people on Tuesday, in the country’s deadliest single attack in more than three months.

The blast, which also left at least 30 people wounded, is likely to raise fresh concerns over the capabilities of Iraq’s security forces 11 months after the departure of American troops.

Tuesday’s bombing struck at around midday in the town of Taji, 15 miles north of Baghdad.

An interior ministry official put the toll at 26 dead and 30 wounded, while a medic said 25 people had died and 40 were hurt.

It was not immediately clear how many of the victims were soldiers or new recruits.

Differing death tolls and breakdowns of casualty figures are common in the chaotic aftermath of violence in Iraq.

Heavy security was placed around Kadhimiyah Hospital where many of the victims were sent, with relatives of recruits rushing to the facility for news.

“I was home when the bomb went off,” said a man who identified himself only as Jawad, whose son was wounded in the blast.

“But when it exploded, I went straight to the hospital, because I knew my son was at the base, and I expected he would be hurt.”

The explosion struck as the base was holding a recruitment day to welcome potential new soldiers. Those events have previously been targets of terrorists intent on carrying out mass-casualty attacks in Iraq.

On Jan. 18, 2011, a suicide bombing in the middle of a crowd of police recruits in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, killed 50 people and wounded 150. On Aug. 17, 2010, another suicide attacker killed 59 army recruits and wounded 125 others.

Officials insist Iraq’s security forces are capable of largely maintaining internal stability, despite regular deadly attacks nationwide, but they are widely acknowledged to be unable to protect the country’s borders, airspace or maritime territory.

The car bomb was the second blast in as many days in Taji. An explosion Monday wounded seven people.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack, although al Qaeda’s front group in Iraq has claimed credit for previous attacks on recruitment centers.

The Sunni extremist group views security forces and civil servants as supporters of Baghdad’s Shiite-led government and often targets them.

Tuesday’s bombing was the deadliest single attack to hit Iraq since July 23, when a series of coordinated blasts, also in Taji, killed 42 people on what was Iraq’s deadliest day in 2? years.

The latest deaths came after figures released on Thursday showed a sharp decline in attacks last month, with the number of people killed the lowest since June.

Violence is sharply lower nationwide since its peak during Iraq’s brutal sectarian war in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common, especially in and around Baghdad.

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