Suicide bomber kills 13 army recruits in Baghdad
Iraqi soldiers monitor a checkpoint east of Baghdad on January 6, 2014. On Thursday, 13 Iraqi army recruits were killed by a suicide bomber in the capital city. (AFP)
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A suicide bomber killed 13 Iraqi army recruits and left more than 30 wounded in Baghdad on Thursday, in what police sources described as an attack against men who were enlisting following a government appeal for volunteers to help fight Al Qaeda-affiliated militants in Anbar province.
Iraqi police sources told Reuters news agency that "a man with an explosive vest had blown himself up as recruits were registering their names at the small Muthanna airfield" near Baghdad on Thursday morning.
The attack - for which no one has yet claimed responsibility for - occurred one day after Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki promised to eradicate all Al Qaeda militants in Iraq.
In a televised address on Wednesday, the prime minister vowed victoriy as the army prepared to launch a major offensive against the Sunni Islamist militants who have been controlling large swathes of Anbar province - including cities Fallujah and Ramadi - for several days. The recent conflict in Anbar marks the first time that militants have succeeded in gaining open and widespread control of a major Iraqi city since the height of the unrest and insurgency that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, according to AFP.
Due to the unrest, the Iraqi Red Crescent said Wednesday that more than 13,000 families were being forced to leave their homes in Anbar, warning of a "critical humanitarian situation" in the area.
Militants from the Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is also playing a major and brutal role in the Syrian civil war, overran police stations in Falluja and another city in Iraq's western Anbar province last week, Reuters reported.
The suicide attack came one week after the government appealed for volunteers to join the army's efforts against Al Qaeda.