A suicide attacker detonated an explosives belt in a crowd of Iraqi army recruits near the Syrian border, killing at least 25 and wounding 35.
Officials said the attack in Rabiah, 370 kilometers north of Baghdad, occurred in the midst of volunteers for the Iraqi army. A wounded survivor, Rashid Hamed, said dozens of recruits had gathered outside a municipal building to submit their applications when an American soldier asked them to move a short distance away.
"Minutes later I saw a portly young man carrying a bag in his hand and heading toward us. I don't remember anything else but waking up in the hospital," Hamed said from a hospital bed in Mosul.
The rebels have made Iraqi police and army recruits a prime target as the United States puts urgency on getting those forces trained sufficiently to assume greater security responsibilities so American and other foreign troops can begin going home next year.
In other violence, two Marines were killed by insurgent gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades in western Iraq, prompting U.S. jets to drop high-tech bombs that destroyed three buildings being used by rebels as firing positions, officials said Friday.
The Marines reported killing nine insurgents, five of them believed to Syrians, during the engagement Thursday in a village west of Haditha about 230 kilometers west of Baghdad.
A U.S. Army soldier died in central Baghdad from injuries suffered in a single-vehicle accident, the U.S. command said. The three deaths brought to 11 the number of U.S. fatalities in Iraq this week, the AP reports.