At least 28 Iraqi army recruits were killed Tuesday in two suicide bombings north of Baghdad in Diyala province, where the government has said it plans an offensive against insurgent groups.
Meanwhile, in Mosul in northern Iraq, at least five people were killed and 11 wounded Tuesday in a series of bombings, Iraqi officials said.
The twin bombings in Diyala occurred shortly after 8 a.m. at Camp Saad, a recruitment center east of Baqouba, the provincial capital, the officials said. The first bomber detonated explosives among a group of recruits, and the second targeted those who fled, according to Maj. Gen Abdul Karim al-Rubaie, the commander of the Diyala military operations center. At least 57 people were wounded in the blasts, he said.
Ali Hikmat al-Dulaimi, a recruit at Camp Saad, said he ran from the site of the first attack.
“When I fled the place running, another suicide bomber blew himself up among the recruits who were not wounded in the first explosion,” he said by phone from a hospital where he was being treated for injuries on his face and legs. “This time I got injured.”
The U.S. military gave a lower toll in the Diyala bombings, saying preliminary reports indicated 22 people were killed.
Iraqi officials have said they plan to send more troops to Diyala in coming days to launch an operation. Sunni insurgent groups, primarily al-Qaida in Iraq, have carried out several attacks there in recent weeks targeting Iraqi security forces.
The Diyala offensive is being planned as U.S. leaders try to reach agreement on the rules under which U.S. troops will operate in Iraq once the U.N. mandate authorizing their presence expires in December.