Vol. 5 Num 418 Sat. July 30, 2005  
Front Page

Suicide bomber kills 25 in Iraq

A suicide bomber blew himself up outside an army recruitment centre in the northern Iraqi town of Rabia, near the Syrian border, killing 25 people and wounding 35, police said.

"An initial toll put the number of those killed at 25 and the number of those wounded at 35," police General Said al-Juburi said from Mosul.

The victims were young men waiting to sign up to join the army, he said.

Insurgents have repeatedly attacked army recruitment centres across the country as thousands of young men, most of them unemployed, seek to join.

Some 1,000 to 1,400 recruits are joining the new army every month, US officials said.

The attack took place at 12:30 pm local time as the suicide bomber was mixed up among the recruits, Juburi said.

Some of those most seriously wounded were rushed to the hospital in Mosul, some 370 kilometers north of Baghdad, according to medical sources.

"I was waiting in the court in the middle of the recruitment center with four of my friends when there was a blast behind us," said Raduane Muayyad, one of the survivors, who was hit with shrapnel in his back and legs.

Rabia's residents are largely Sunni Arab, formerly privileged during the regime of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein and now blamed for being the backbone of the insurgency against the Iraqi government and US forces in Iraq.

US and Iraqi officials have long complained that foreign fighters entering Iraq largely cross into the country through Syria. Damascus denies the charges.

Meanwhile Philippine diplomats in Iraq have left their Baghdad mission indefinitely and pulled back to Jordan due to a rash of kidnappings of foreign diplomats, Foreign Undersecretary Jose Brillantes said Friday.

The three-member mission, led by charge d'affaires Eric Endaya, had arrived at the embassy in Amman where they would be posted "for an indefinite period of time," Brillantes said in a written statement.

"The diplomats in Baghdad are in Amman for security reasons occasioned by the recent kidnappings of diplomats," he added.