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Iraq

Militants in training bomb themselves

Blast alerted police to camp’s existence

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 file photo, Smoke rises after a parked car bomb went off at a commercial center in Khilani Square in central Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 file photo, Smoke rises after a parked car bomb went off at a commercial center in Khilani Square in central Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 file photo, Smoke rises after a parked car bomb went off at a commercial center in Khilani Square in central Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 file photo, Smoke rises after a parked car bomb went off at a commercial center in Khilani Square in central Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 file photo, Civilians clean up after a parked car bomb went off at a commercial center in Khilani Square in central Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 file photo, Civilians clean up after a parked car bomb went off at a commercial center in Khilani Square in central Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

  • FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 file photo, Iraqi security forces inspect a car destroyed after a car bomb attack in the Jamila neighborhood of Baghdad,  Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim, File)

    FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 file photo, Iraqi security forces inspect a car destroyed after a car bomb attack in the Jamila neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim, File)

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 file photo, An Iraqi woman looks at damages from Monday's car bomb explosion at an outdoor market in Abu Disher neighborhood of southern Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)

    FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 file photo, An Iraqi woman looks at damages from Monday's car bomb explosion at an outdoor market in Abu Disher neighborhood of southern Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)

  • FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 file photo, A wrecked car is removed from the site of a car bomb attack in the Shaab neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim, File)

    FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 file photo, A wrecked car is removed from the site of a car bomb attack in the Shaab neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim, File)

  • FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 file photo, People and security forces inspect the site of a car bomb attack in the Shaab neighborhood of Baghdad,  Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim, File)

    FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 file photo, People and security forces inspect the site of a car bomb attack in the Shaab neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim, File)

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 file photo, Smoke rises after a parked car bomb went off at a commercial center in Khilani Square in central Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 file photo, Smoke rises after a parked car bomb went off at a commercial center in Khilani Square in central Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 file photo, Civilians clean up after a parked car bomb went off at a commercial center in Khilani Square in central Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
  • FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 file photo, Iraqi security forces inspect a car destroyed after a car bomb attack in the Jamila neighborhood of Baghdad,  Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim, File)
  • FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 file photo, An Iraqi woman looks at damages from Monday's car bomb explosion at an outdoor market in Abu Disher neighborhood of southern Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)
  • FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 file photo, A wrecked car is removed from the site of a car bomb attack in the Shaab neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim, File)
  • FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 file photo, People and security forces inspect the site of a car bomb attack in the Shaab neighborhood of Baghdad,  Iraq. Car bombs are one of the deadliest weapons used by the al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, with coordinated waves of explosions regularly leaving scores dead in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim, File)

An instructor teaching his militant recruits how to make car bombs accidentally set off explosives in his demonstration yesterday, killing 21 of them in a huge blast that alerted authorities to the existence of the rural training camp in an orchard north of Baghdad.

Nearly two dozen people were arrested, including wounded insurgents trying to hobble away from the scene.

The fatal goof by the al-Qaida breakaway group that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq happened on the same day that the speaker of the Iraqi parliament, a prominent Sunni whom the militants consider a traitor, escaped unhurt from a roadside bomb attack on his motorcade in the northern city of Mosul.

Nevertheless, the events underscored the determination of the insurgents to rebuild and regain the strength they enjoyed in Iraq at the height of the war until U.S.-backed Sunni tribesmen turned against them.

The militants are currently battling for control of mainly Sunni areas of western Iraq in a key test of the Shiite-led government’s ability to maintain security more than two years after the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

While the Iraqi army has been attacking insurgent training camps in the vast desert of western Anbar province near the Syrian border, it is unusual to find such a camp in the center of the country, just 60 miles north of the capital.

The discovery shows “the terrorist groups have made a strong comeback in Iraq and the security problems are far from over, and things are heading from bad to worse,” said Hamid al-Mutlaq, a member of the parliament’s security and defense committee.

The militants belonged to a network now known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an extremist group that recently broke with al-Qaida.

The ISIL, emboldened by fellow fighters’ gains in the Syrian civil war, has tried to position itself as the champion of Iraqi Sunnis angry at the government over what they see as efforts to marginalize them.

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