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The same center was attacked in February (file photo) 17 June 2004 -- Iraqi police say a car bomb exploded today in Baghdad outside a recruitment center for the new Iraqi army, killing at least 35 people and injuring more than 130, the Iraqi Health Ministry reported.

Visiting the blast site, Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said the attack came as part of an expected escalation of bloodshed in the country.

"This is an escalation that we have been expecting. We are going to face these escalations. We are going to face the enemies of Iraq, and the Iraqi people are going to prevail. The government of Iraq is determined to go ahead in confronting the enemies, whether they are here in Iraq or whether they are anywhere else in the world," he said.

According to reports, some 100 volunteers were trying to enter the recruitment center when a vehicle loaded with artillery shells slammed into a crowd of volunteers outside the center. Ambulances raced to the scene, which is near the Muthanna air field, where U.S. troops are also based. Iraqi police cordoned off the area.

A U.S. officer at the scene, Colonel Mike Murray, said the blast was caused by a suicide car bomber. The center was the target of a suicide attack in February that killed 47 people.

Meanwhile, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, on a visit to northern Iraq, said that U.S. forces will remain in Iraq until Iraqi forces can handle the security situation in the country.

Earlier, the U.S. military said a third U.S. soldier died of wounds sustained during a rocket attack on a base north of Baghdad yesterday.


(Reuters/AFP/AP/dpa)
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