40 Killed Across Iraq, Police Recruits Targeted

A large blast rocked Baghdad today, killing 20 police recruits and policemen. The attack, which occurred near the heavily fortified Interior Ministry, may have been a message to the Maliki government. However, it wasn’t the only violence targeting policemen. At least 40 Iraqis were killed and 42 more were wounded overall. Many of those victims were either security personal or their informants.

A suicide car bomber struck at a police academy in Baghdad today, killing 20 people and wounding 28 more. Authorities blamed the attack on lax security. Most of the victims were recruits who were leaving the compound on schedule at 1 p.m.

This academy is located near the Interior Ministry, which is a favorite target of Sunni insurgents. During the height of sectarian violence, Shi’ite deaths squads freely operated within the Ministry’s police ranks. More recently, it has been involved in arresting staffers and bodyguards who work for Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.

In December, the vice president was accused by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of supporting Sunni death squads. Hashemi, who claims the charges are fraudulent and the result of a political rivalry, fled to Kurdistan for protection. The ministry building itself was attacked shortly afterwards in what many say was a revenge hit for the harassment and arrests of Hashemi and a number of other Sunnis. The heavy fortifications at that building may have influenced today’s bomber in selecting the academy instead.

Hashemi’s party, Iraqiya, recently ended a parliament and cabinet walkout related to these arrests. When they returned to work, violence tapered off somewhat. Today, though, they complained that the Maliki government is still stoking sectarian tensions. Just days after a judicial panel said they believe Maliki’s evidence against Hashemi, State TV repeated the charges. Iraqiya claims it is actions like these that will rekindle violence.

In other attacks in Baghdad, two policemen were killed in Doura on Thursday.

In Baquba, gunmen killed four police informants.

Gunmen killed four women at a home in Moalimeen.

A police lieutenant and his driver were shot dead in Tikrit.

A small arms attack at a checkpoint in Abu Khamis left one policeman and two Sahwa members dead. Another four personnel were wounded.

In Mosul, a bomb killed a soldier and wounded three others, including a civilian.

A policeman was killed and two more were wounded during clashes in Ashaki.

A body was found in Pirde Lake. The victim had been shot.

A suspected al-Qaeda media minister was killed during clashes in Haramat.

Clashes in Wadi Hajar left two policemen with injuries.

Two Sahwa members were wounded during a bombing near Samarra.

A sticky bomb wounded a farmer on Friday in Hawija.

No casualties were reported after grenades were thrown at four homes in Diwaniya. The homes belong to colleagues of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Other Sistani-tied targets were attacked as well, or bombs were defused. Two people were detained for handing out leaflets calling for violence against Sistani.

A 13-year-old girl was kidnapped in Hilla.

A businessman’s Qadisiya home was blown up, but no casualties were reported.

Two electrical towers were blown up in Udhaim.

In Wassit province, two hundred suspects were arrested during the last week.

Author: Margaret Griffis

Margaret Griffis is a journalist from Miami Beach, Florida and has been covering Iraqi casualties for Antiwar.com since 2006.