A suicide bomber killed 35 people at an Iraqi police recruiting centre in Baghdad on Sunday, in the latest attack that undermines US and Iraqi government efforts to bolster the country's security forces.
Interior Ministry sources said 58 people were also wounded in the attack after a bomber wearing an explosive-laden vest walked into the recruiting centre for police commandos and blew himself up among a crowd of young men.
The attack, the bloodiest in months targeting recruits, comes as US President George W Bush's top generals prepare recommendations for a shift in strategy following a defeat for his Republicans at Congressional elections last Tuesday.
Sunni Arab insurgents frequently target recruits hoping to join Iraq's fledgling security forces, which are a key part of Washington's plan for an eventual withdrawal of its troops.
In January, a suicide bomber blew himself up among a crowd of police recruits in the western city of Ramadi, killing 70.
Washington has focused on training and reinforcing Iraq's security forces in the hope of being able to hand over responsibility for security and draw down its 1,50,000 troops.
But Iraqi security forces are under-equipped and frequently attacked by insurgents, deterring recruitment. There were attacks on police in Kirkuk, Baquba and Baghdad on Saturday.
With growing US pressure not to leave its troops suffering daily casualties in Iraq indefinitely, the establishment of a credible, forceful and independent Iraqi security force is key.
However, both the police and the army are frequently accused by both sides of being infiltrated by people more interested in promoting the interests of their own sectarian group than acting impartially.