March 8, 2009

Attacks continue to be directed against Iraqi police - and police recruits. I know American troops strongly resent them (see above video), since some of them abandon their posts under fire and so many of them have insurgent ties, but it's a thankless job few of us can imagine:

BAGHDAD, March 8 -- A suicide bomber on a motorcycle plowed into a crowd gathered at the entrance of the police academy Sunday, killing 28 and wounding dozens more.

Survivors recalled scenes of confusion and carnage in the bombing's aftermath, as ambulances tried to force their way through snarled traffic. Police fired in the air afterward -- either in confusion or, fearing a second bomb, to try to disperse people.

A bombing Dec. 1 struck the same academy, killing 15 people, and some survivors of Sunday's bombing expressed anger at how vulnerable they still were. Scores of men had gathered under a bridge near the entrance, in hopes of becoming recruits. Survivors said police had left them waiting in the street for more than two hours without word on possible jobs.

"We didn't know what as going on. They told us to come forward, then they pushed us back. Forward then back," said Ali Farraj, who had been trying to get admitted to the academy for three years. "They wouldn't tell us anything."

The assailant detonated bombs that were strapped to both his body and the motorcycle. The attack came in a fortified part of Baghdad that is home to the Oil Ministry and other military and government offices. The entrance to the police academy was protected with blast walls, but the crowd, standing about 20 feet away, was exposed to the traffic.

The explosion follows a car bombing at a livestock market in the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, Thursday that left 12 people dead. Although the number of such attacks had declined significantly and is at its lowest level since 2003 and 2004, in recent weeks, there have been some dramatic attacks against U.S. soldiers and civilians.

Also Sunday, U.S. military officials announced that the American forces in Iraq will be trimmed from 14 brigades to 12 by September, a reduction of 12,000 U.S. forces. Four thousand British troops also will depart.

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