A suicide bomber rode his bicycle into a crowd of police recruits in Baqouba, killing at least 29 people in a province that has become a battleground among US forces, al-Qaida militants and Shiite radicals.
A group of Shi'ite and Sunni clerics, meanwhile, were rescued on Monday, one day after they were kidnapped in the capital after meeting with the government to discuss how to coordinate efforts against al-Qaida in Iraq.
In a reflection of the extraordinary complexity of Iraq, the US military blamed a Shi'ite militant for the kidnapping, in which one of the sheiks was said to have been killed. The military did not reveal its evidence, but has claimed that so-called rogue Shi'ite groups are doing everything possible to stop Iraqis from joining US forces - even in the fight against the Sunni al-Qaida in Iraq.
Police and hospital officials reported at least 19 wounded in the attack Monday in Baqouba, the capital of Diyala province 35 miles (56 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad. Mohammed al-Kirrawi, a doctor at the Baqouba general hospital, said most of the victims were struck by ball bearings packed in the bomber's suicide vest and that the hospital lacked equipment to save many of the wounded.