A suicide bomber blew himself up Tuesday among hundreds of army recruits who had gathered near a military headquarters in an attack officials said killed 60 and wounded 125, one of the bloodiest bombings in months in the Iraqi capital.
The massive strike just outside a major division headquarters and recruitment center is an embarrassment to Iraqi security forces and casts doubts on their ability to protect themselves and the nation just two weeks before all but 50,000 U.S. troops head home.
Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi blamed al-Qaida in Iraq for enlisting the bomber, whose upper body he said was found at the scene of the blast.
Yasir Ali, who had been waiting outside the military headquarters since 4 a.m. with about 1,000 other hopeful recruits, said he saw the bomber, describing him as a blond young man. Ali said the bomber was sitting quietly among the recruits, then walked up to an officer collecting I.D. cards and blew himself up.
"Severed hands and legs were falling over me," said Ali said, adding he was about 54 feet (15 meters) away from the bomber. "I was soaked with blood from the body parts and wounded and dead people falling over and beside me."