Thu, May 04, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Iraqi suicide bomber hits police recruits, killing 15


A suicide bomber blew himself up while standing in a line of recruits outside Fallujah's police headquarters yesterday, killing at least 15 people and wounding 30, in an attack aimed at discouraging Sunni Arabs from joining the force, police said.

Thirteen of the dead were recruits and two policemen, said police 1st Lieutenant Omar Ahmed.

Police also found the bodies of 14 Iraqi men in Baghdad who apparently were the latest victims of a wave of sectarian violence involving death squads that kidnap civilians, torture them in captivity and dump their bodies on city streets.

The attack in Fallujah, a former insurgent stronghold 65km west of Baghdad, was part of an insurgent campaign against US efforts to bring more Sunnis into the police and army.

The bomber, dressed in civilian clothes, struck outside the entrance of the police building, police said. His hidden bomb exploded several minutes after he joined the crowd of recruits waiting to enter the building and apply for jobs, Ahmed said.

On Tuesday, the bodies of four Iraqi soldiers were found in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, two days after they graduated from basic training as part of the first all-Sunni class, according to police. Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, is 50km west of Fallujah.

In other violence yesterday:

* A roadside bomb exploded in an outdoor market in northern Baghdad, wounding 16 civilians, said police Major Raid Moussa.

* Gunmen attacked a police patrol in central Baqubah, 60km northeast of Baghdad, killing a police officer and wounding another, police said.

* A roadside bomb exploded near an elementary school for girls in Tikrit, 130km north of the capital, wounding one child, said policeman Hakim al-Azawi.

Parliamentary meet

In Baghdad, as Iraq's parliament met yesterday for only the third time since it was elected last year, parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab, urged the lawmakers to be "the healers" of Iraq's deep sectarian divisions.

Prime minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, is in the process of choosing a Cabinet for the new unity government from Iraq's complex mix of political parties controlled by majority Shiites and minority Sunni Arabs and Kurds.

Al-Maliki was officially appointed on April 22 and has pledged to complete his Cabinet this month. That will be the final stage in establishing the new government.

US officials believe a unity government can over time calm sectarian tensions and lure many Sunnis away from the insurgency.

But on Tuesday, Shiite officials reported a new snag in the negotiations when Sunni politicians insisted on key posts, including deputy prime minister and a major ministry such as finance or education.

Shiites, who hold 130 of the 275 seats in parliament, offered a lesser ministry but the Sunnis refused, according to Shiite politician Bassem Sharif.

Talks were to continue yesterday, he said.

Sunni politicians are also eager for parliament to consider amendments to the new Constitution. Sunnis oppose several provisions, including one allowing formation of regional governments. Many Sunnis fear that would lead to Iraq's breakup and deprive them of a fair share of the country's vast oil wealth.

Shiites and Kurds agreed to study changes in the Constitution during the first four months of the new parliament.

Hostages freed

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