Last updated: 17 March, 2012

Al-Qaeda claims Iraq police academy attack, says US monitoring group SITE

Al-Qaeda’s front group in Iraq has claimed a suicide car bombing at a Baghdad police academy a month ago that killed 15 people and wounded 21 others, a US monitoring group said on Saturday.

The February 19 bombing was the deadliest attack in the Iraqi capital in weeks, and was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in a statement posted on a jihadist forum on Friday, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist websites.

“The operation targeted the headquarters of the general police academy… where tens of the graduates of the officer training programme were gathered,” the forum post said, according to a translation provided by SITE.

“These graduates are qualified by the Safavid government to periodically control land in the Sunni areas and impose the reality of the situation in strengthening the rule of the (Shiites) in the land,” it said.

Sunni insurgents often invoke Iran’s Safavid past, referring to the Shiite dynasty that ruled Persia between the 16th and 18th centuries and conquered part of Iraq, when denouncing the Baghdad government, which they say is controlled by Iran.

The posting also included a list of 29 operations carried out by the ISI in Baghdad between February 13 and February 29.

Violence across the country is down from its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common. A total of 150 Iraqis were killed in February, according to official figures.