A suspected al-Qaeda suicide bomber attacked a large group of Iraqi security force recruits killing 23 men and wounding another 36 in the capital city of Baghdad on Thursday, according to Benjamin Dollen, a former law enforcement anti-terrorism task force member who continues to monitor global jihad.
The victims were men volunteering help their government eliminate the al Qaeda branch known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant whose members took control of two cities and other territory in Iraq's Anbar province, according to an Examiner news story.
Officials at the Baghdad Security Operations Center reported that the terrorist bomber triggered an explosion that killed himself along with the new recruits at a small military airfield used by the army. Al-Qaeda terrorists have routinely killed and wounded police officers, soldiers and government officials, according to several Examiner news stories.
While no group has announced its responsibility for the attack, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said he "would eradicate the evil of al-Qaeda and its allies" who killed more than 8,000 Iraqis in 2013 alone.
Members of the terrorist group al-Qaeda in Iraq, that recently changed its name to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), had seized control of Falluja and most of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province last week, according to eyewitness accounts on Facebook. (Note: Facebook page has links for translations from Arabic to English.)
The Shiite-led Iraqi government quickly recruited additional volunteers to join the anti-terrorism effort against al Qaeda, which has continued to regain its power in the Sunni-dominated regions such as Anbar by exploiting Sunni anger over the Maliki government's policies, according to United Nations reports.
Bloodshed in Iraq has returned to its highest level in five years, with the United Nations reporting 8,868 people killed in 2013.
Besides the slaughter of security recruits, on Thursday afternoon a suicide car bomber attacked a checkpoint in eastern Ramadi, killing three special forces soldiers and wounding four, police sources said.
In addition, an ISIL sniper allegedly killed two more members of the special forces in a region just north of Baghdad, according to security officials.
Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group alleges that combatants on both sides are causing civilian casualties in Anbar, with Iraqi government forces apparently using indiscriminate mortar fire, while al-Qaeda and its local allies were attacking from populated areas.
"A government blockade of Falluja and Ramadi has resulted in limited access to food, water and fuel for the population," the U.S.-based organization claimed on Thursday.