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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 February, 2004, 14:43 GMT
Iraqi recruits pay high price for work
By Barbara Plett
BBC correspondent in Baghdad

Injured Iraqi
Hospitals struggled to cope with the flood of casualties
Hundreds had gathered outside the Iraqi army recruiting station in Baghdad when a suicide bomber drove into it with a car packed with explosives.

It was the second attack in 24 hours on Iraqis working with the coalition.

Most of the 47 casualties were men queuing to apply for jobs in Iraq's new army.

Given the strength of the blast, the injuries were severe and many of the dead could not be identified

Emergency workers struggled to keep the survivors alive, and wrapped the dead in cloth and plastic. Many bodies could not be identified.

The injured were rushed to emergency wards to await surgery, as ambulances continued to shuttle back and forth between hospital and bomb site. The medical services could barely cope.

Dr Amar Sammi was one of those trying to save as many lives as possible.

What other work can I do? We thought new jobs would be created, but they weren't and I have to make money
Fou'ad Fadel
"Injured patients (with) very severe injuries, those amputated or those in the abdomen, the chest, the head... most of them I expect they will die also," he said, describing the scene at the hospital.

"They are shocked and burned, most of the cases burned, severe burns."

One recruit, Fou'ad Fadel, was lucky to escape without injury.

He told us he had been searching the recruits at the front gate when the car exploded.

Despite the carnage, he said he was still prepared to sign up with the army.

"Maybe tomorrow I will come," he said.

"I used to be an officer in the old army, what other work can I do? We thought maybe new jobs would be created, but they weren't and I have to make money."

Scene after the attack
Iraqis seen to be co-operating with the occupation are being targeted
At Iraq's police academy, American instructors doggedly continued their training. The new army and police force are central to Washington's plans.

It wants to hand control over to Iraqi security forces and withdraw US soldiers to military bases by June.

Amir Mohammed is a committed cadet.

"This job as a policeman is necessary in this time, because I saw too many children (killed) with no reason... I ask myself why did they get killed?" he said.

Grieving family

That is a question that will probably come later for Mankhe Jabbar. Right now he is devoured by grief because his son Khalid is dead, and it is almost a physical pain.

The father was a soldier and so was the son, ready to sign up for the new army.

His wife Rasmiya twists her hands and looks at the floor. She had warned Khalid about the dangers.

"We hear about explosions on the TV and radio so I told him to forget this idea of joining the army, the money's not worth it," she said.

"But he said this is the only thing I can do. I have to feed my family. "

The parents look defeated, overcome by this new Iraq that has brought hardships different from the old, and forced their children to gamble with life order to survive.

Personal heartache, but also political uncertainties - for the coalition about the future of plans to transfer sovereignty, for Iraqis about the future of their country.

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