The attack, with the highest death toll since October, sparked
criticism of the government's counter-insurgency campaign. In August,
in a similar attack, 59 people were killed in an Al Qaida suicide bombing of
an Army recruitment center in Baghdad. Since then, the government of Prime
Minister Nouri Al Maliki, who has begun his second term, insisted that the
AQI leadership was decimated.
"We will follow the case closely until we find who is responsible, and
the reasons that let this tragic catastrophe happen," Al Maliki said.
Officials said Al Qaida repeated its long-employed tactic of
infiltrating a suicide bomber in a crowd of police recruits. About 300
people had been waiting outside the recruitment center when the blast took
place in the morning hours. Recruits receive a salary of $500 per month.
Over the last year, Al Qaida has reduced its operations amid the capture
or killing of senior commanders. But AQI has sustained its insurgency
campaign in Salah Eddin, a largely Sunni province.
"Once again the terrorists returned to their usual tactics of killing
the innocent and targeting the brave young people who wanted to serve their
country and defend it," Maliki said. "The repetition of this heinous crime
in the same style (as the August attack) confirms there is something wrong
in (the methods used for) identifying those who are responsible," he said.