19 killed as bomber hits Iraq military base

19 killed as bomber hits Iraq military base

It was the third major attack in the last five days and underscored the fragile state of Iraqi security as Washington pulls its remaining 14,500 troops out by the year-end, nearly nine years after the invasion that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

The attacker detonated a minibus packed with explosives at the entrance to the base, which houses a jail holding al Qaeda, Mehdi Army militia and other prisoners, officials and security sources said. Taji is 20 km north of Baghdad.

“Today was the day for the prisoners to meet their families... at the entrance, there was a minibus driven by a suicide bomber,” said a duty officer at the jail. “It entered from the first checkpoint and before the police finished their search this guy drove quickly inside the base and blew it up.”

Baghdad’s security operations centre said the blast killed 19 people, including 11 jail guards, and wounded 24 others.

Two other people were missing, security sources said.