Details emerge about attack on Iraqi recruits in Fallujah
May 5, 2006
FALLUJAH, Iraq — Details on the suicide bomb attack against a line of Iraqi men waiting at a Fallujah police recruiting checkpoint continued to emerge Thursday, with the U.S. military saying the death toll was substantially lower than first reported.
The bomber killed himself and seven other people, wounding a dozen more, according to a U.S. Marine Corps spokesman in Iraq. Reports on Wednesday from various news services had the death toll at least twice that number.
Those reports cited Iraqi hospital officials, who could not be reached on Thursday.
The bomber attacked the recruiting drive at 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning as groups of men lined up at the entrance to a security checkpoint.
According to the Marines, the recruiting process was reopened about an hour after the attack, with an unreleased number of recruits signing up even after the attack.
“The fact that an overwhelming number of recruits arrived immediately after the attack signifies the local rejection of intimidation and terrorism,” Regimental Combat Team 5 commander Col. Larry D. Nicholson was quoted as saying in a news release.
“The people of Fallujah continue to look forward, not back, and understand that the way ahead, the road to progress and the path to self-governance depends on being part of the new Iraqi government.”
Fallujah has long been a key symbol of the fight against the insurgency in Anbar province. An overwhelmingly Sunni town, it was the site of a November 2004 battle that destroyed much of the city.
Over the past 18 months, more than 200,000 residents have returned, but insurgents have returned with them.
U.S. Marines share responsibility for the city with growing numbers of Iraqi soldiers and police forces, and attacks have largely shifted from targeting U.S. troops to Iraqi troops.
Last Sunday, the first all-Sunni class of Iraqi army recruits — more than 800 of whom were recruited in Fallujah — graduated a U.S.-run training academy.
By Thursday, various reports said that at least six of those recruits had been killed in their hometowns. U.S. officials say the training program for the next class of recruits will begin soon, with the goal being 6,500 trained over the coming months.