Tuesday: Bomber Kills 61 in Iraq; Aid Slow to Reach Pakistanis

BY Tom LeGro  August 17, 2010 at 9:47 AM EDT

Iraq bombing victim

A man receives treatment at a Baghdad hospital after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a crowded army recruitment center in the Iraqi capital. Photo by Khalil al-Murshidi/AFP/Getty Images.

A suicide bomber killed 61 people Tuesday at an army recruitment center in central Baghdad. At least 125 others were injured.

Bodies of young men, some still holding job applications in their hands, were scattered on the ground outside the military headquarters, reports the Associated Press. Many of the estimated 1,000 men were so desperate for work they returned hours after being treated at hospitals for injuries in the attack.

The attack also coincides with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which the New York Times notes in recent years has brought an escalation of attacks:


“[T]his year has particular significance as Ramadan coincides with the weeks leading to the American military’s Aug. 31 deadline to reduce its troop numbers in Iraq to 50,000, shifting from combat operations to a mission designed principally to train and assist Iraqi security forces.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but an Iraqi military spokesman blamed al-Qaida for the blast.

The Economist writes:

Disbanded soon after the American invasion, the army has come to rely heavily on new recruits. Well aware of this, al-Qaeda has repeatedly tried to deter prospective candidates….The latest one will not stop the Americans from departing….unless the Iraqi government asks them to stay (which is looking more likely now that American-made tanks and choppers are arriving in defence ministry lots).”

The NewsHour’s Margaret Warner is in Iraq to report on U.S. troop reductions. She talks about her plans with Hari Sreenivasan here. We’ll have reactions on the ground to the latest bombing later today on the Rundown.

Thousands in Flooded Pakistan Yet to Receive Aid

United Nations aid agencies have said hundreds of thousands of people affected by the floods in Pakistan have yet to receive aid, adding that the relief operation remains underfunded, reports the BBC.

Six million people are in need of immediate assistance, they said. But the World Food Program has so far distributed food to less than a million people, and of an estimated half a million families in need of shelter, just 98,000 have received tents.

On Monday’s NewsHour, we had a report from special correspondent Saima Mohsin in Pakistan on the disaster:

Court Puts Gay Marriage in Calif. on Hold

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided Monday to put same-sex marriage in California on hold at least until December, interrupting the wedding plans of gay couples who were hoping to exchange vows this week.

The Associated Press reports: Lawyers for the two gay couples who challenged the ban said Monday they would not appeal the panel’s decision on the stay to the U.S. Supreme Court. They said they were satisfied the appeals court had agreed to fast-track its consideration of the Proposition 8 case by scheduling oral arguments for the week of Dec. 6.

Slate’s Emily Bazelon writes that supporters of gay marriage should actually be relieved that the Prop. 8 stay will continue:

“This order makes the 9th Circuit seem sober and deliberate rather than radical and rash….Better to have gay marriage delayed than attract the attention of the conservative justices who sometimes seem like they reverse the 9th Circuit for sport. This way, the 9th Circuit will get its crack to rule before the Supremes touch the case in any way. It helps that the three-judge panel acted unanimously and is made up of two Clinton appointees and a Reagan appointee.”