A suicide bomber, likely from al Qaeda in Iraq or the allied Ansar al Islam, killed 19 Iraqi policemen and cadets in an attack outside a police academy in Baghdad today. From Reuters:
The car exploded as it careered into a crowd of cadets whom police had just escorted out of the compound and were standing in the street outside, police working at the academy said.
Police and hospital sources said 14 cadets and five police were killed, and 26 people were wounded. All except two of the wounded were police or cadets.
“I can see body parts scattered on the ground and boots and berets covered with blood. Many cars were set ablaze,” said a policeman working at the academy on Palestine Street in northeastern Baghdad.
As Reuters notes, today’s suicide attack is the first major mass-casualty suicide attack in Iraq in three weeks. The last attack, on Jan. 27, killed 32 Iraqis, including 16 policemen and Shia worshippers, during a funeral procession in Baghdad.
While al Qaeda in Iraq has been weakened after years of targeting and counterinsurgency operations by Iraqi and US forces, the terror group still maintains a foothold in the country.
Al Qaeda in Iraq carried out three major suicide attacks in Iraq during January 2012. On Jan. 15, terrorists dressed as policemen attacked a government compound and a police station in Ramadi with four suicide bombers; seven police officers and at least six of the attackers were killed during the fighting. Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed credit for the attack.
Just one day earlier, on Jan. 14, a suicide bomber killed more than 50 Shia pilgrims and injured 91 others as they gathered for Arbain in Basra.
And on Jan. 5, at the beginning of Arbain, al Qaeda launched a series of attacks against Shia pilgrims, killing over 60 civilians. The deadliest strike occurred when a suicide bomber detonated at a security checkpoint near Nasiriya; 44 civilians were killed and dozens more were wounded.