BAGHDAD — Young men from some of Iraq's poorest areas waited all night outside an army recruitment center, only to become easy prey Tuesday for a suicide bomber who killed 61 of them. Desperate for jobs, dazed survivors rushed to get back in line after the attack.
Officials quickly blamed al-Qaida for the deadliest single act of violence in the capital in months. Police said 125 people were wounded.
Bodies of bloodied young men, some still clutching job applications in their hands, were scattered on the ground outside the headquarters' gate. Soldiers collected bits of flesh and stray hands and legs as frantic Iraqis showed up to search for relatives.
Army and police recruitment centers have been frequent targets for militants, underscoring the determination of the applicants to risk their lives for work in a country with an unemployment rate estimated as high as 30 percent.
"I have to get this job at any cost in order to feed my family," said Ali Ahmed, 34, a father of two who returned to the bloody street after taking a friend to the hospital. "I have no option but to come back to the line. If there were other job opportunities, I would not be here in the first place."