BAGHDAD, (AP) – A suicide bomber struck police lined up at the entrance of the main police academy in Baghdad on Sunday, killing more than two dozen people and wounding dozens of others, officials said.
The blast was a bloody reminder of the ability of insurgents to stage dramatic attacks as the United States begins to draw down its forces. The U.S. military was expected to announce the withdrawal of two more brigades on Sunday.
The bomber detonated his explosives near a side entrance of the academy, which is in a mainly Shiite area of eastern Baghdad.
One police officer said the bomber was riding a motorcycle when he drove into the line but the Interior Ministry said the method of attack had not yet been determined.
Extremists have increasingly targeted Iraqi forces as they try to prove they can take over the country’s security so the American troops can go home.
Baghdad’s main police academy has been hit by several bombings. Another suicide bombing there killed at least 33 people and wounded dozens on Dec. 1.
Iraqi officials provided conflicting casualty tolls as is common in the chaotic aftermath of bombings.
Three medical officials and a police officer in the area where the bombing occurred said 26 people were killed and nearly 60 wounded. Another police officer at the Interior Ministry said 28 were killed and 57 wounded.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information.
Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said earlier that 16 people were killed and about 30 wounded.
Nobody claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack. But suicide bombings are usually blamed on al-Qaida in Iraq and other Sunni insurgents seeking to undermine public confidence in security gains that have led to a sharp decline in violence.