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21 army recruits killed in Iraq

BAGHDAD, FEB. 8. A suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of Iraqis outside an army recruitment centre in Baghdad on Tuesday, killing 21 other persons and injuring 27 more, said the U.S. military.

It was the deadliest attack in the Iraqi capital since last week's election.

There were conflicting reports about the attack, which occurred at an Iraqi National Guard headquarters at the Muthana airfield. Iraqi officials blamed the explosion on mortar fire and officials at Baghdad's Yarmouk Hospital said they had received 16 bodies from the scene, all of them army recruits.

But witnesses reported only one explosion, and the U.S. military said the blast was caused by a suicide bomber. Elsewhere, three police officers were killed in clashes in Baghdad's western Ghazaliya neighbourhood, scene of numerous clashes and assassinations over the past six months.

Also on Tuesday, assailants sprayed a politician's car with gunfire, killing two of the man's sons, said an Interior Ministry official.

The politician, Mithal al-Alusi, who heads the Nation Party, escaped unhurt. Last year, he was expelled from the Iraqi National Congress party for attending a terrorism conference in Israel. Mr. Al-Alusi is one of the candidates who ran in Iraq's January 30 elections. — AP

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