Middle East

Car bombing kills 27 at Iraq army base

Iraqi army soldiers inspect vehicles at an army base in Taji (31 March 2007)
Image caption A car bomb blast struck an army patrol in Taji on Monday, wounding several soldiers

At least 27 people have been killed by a car bomb that exploded at the entrance to an Iraqi army base near Baghdad, police and medics say.

More than 40 others were wounded by the blast, which occurred at 12:00 (09:00 GMT) at the facility in Taji, about 25km (15 miles) north of the capital.

One report said potential new recruits gathered outside were the target.

Although violence has decreased in Iraq since its peak in 2006 and 2007, insurgent attacks are still common.

On Monday, two car bombings killed at least four people and wounded 16 others around Baghdad.

The first took place at a market in the mainly Shia district of al-Ubaidi, while the second struck an army patrol in Taji, wounding several soldiers.

'Strong explosion'

It is not clear how many of the victims of Tuesday's blast were soldiers. One report said as many as 22 were among the dead.

The explosion appears to have occurred as they left the base at lunchtime and walked towards minibuses waiting to transport them.

However, sources told the AFP news agency there had also been a recruitment event on Tuesday to welcome potential new soldiers.

Mohammed Talal told the New York Times he had been among the would-be recruits.

He said the crowd of applicants had been told to check their names against lists posted on the walls outside.

"I was heading to the place near the parking lot to check my name when all of sudden a strong explosion happened where the people was gathering," he added. "I turned and started to run, and I began to feel shrapnel in my back and I fell to the ground."

Such recruitment events have been targeted by militants in the past. In January 2011, a suicide bomber blew himself up among a crowd of police recruits in the city of Tikrit, killing 50 people.

Following Tuesday's blast, heavy security was in place around Kadhamiya hospital, where many of the victims were taken for treatment.

The incident is believed to be the deadliest single attack in Iraq since 23 July, when a series of co-ordinated blasts - also in Taji - killed 42 people.

No group has said it was behind the bombing, although previous attacks on army bases have been claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq, a radical Sunni Islamist militant umbrella group that includes al-Qaeda.