Two men strapped with explosives detonated themselves at Baghdad's police academy on Tuesday, killing at least 27 people and wounding 50 more, officials said, while al-Jazeera broadcast an insurgent video of a man purported to be a U.S. security consultant. The men were wearing explosives-laden vests and U.S. contractor was among those wounded, a U.S. military statement said. U.S. forces rushed to the scene to provide assistance, the statement said. The military retracted an earlier statement that the bombers were women.
"One of the suicide bombers detonated near a group of students outside a classroom," the Task Force Baghdad said. "Thinking the explosion was an indirect-fire attack, (Iraqi police) and students fled to a bunker for shelter where the second bomber detonated his vest." Five female police officers were among the dead, Iraqi police said.
"We were sitting in the yard when we heard an explosion," said police Maj. Wisam al-Heyali. "Seconds later, we were hit by another explosion as we were running. I saw some of my colleagues falling down and I felt my hand hit, but I kept on running." Iraqi insurgents have concentrated their attacks against Iraqi security forces. Tuesday's attack was the deadliest against Iraqi forces since Feb. 28, when a suicide car bomber attacked mostly Shiite police and National Guard recruits in Hillah, killing 125.
The video showed a blond, Western-looking man sitting down with his hands tied behind his back. The video also bore the logo of the Islamic Army in Iraq and showed a U.S. passport and an identification card. The authenticity of the video could not be immediately confirmed.
If true, the man would become the second American taken hostage in the last two weeks. A U.S. citizen was among four peace activists taken hostage on Nov. 27 by a group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness. Two Canadians and a Briton were also part of that group. A French engineer was taken hostage in Baghdad on Monday and a German aid worker was abducted near Mosul on Nov. 26. There is no evidence the kidnappings were coordinated, and those responsible for abducting the German aid worker, reports the AP. N.U.