The attacks are the latest in a wave of strikes targeting Iraqi security forces since the country’s landmark January 30 election.

In Baghdad a suicide bomber walked into a line of soldiers and recruits killing at least 15 of them, while gunmen killed two sons and the bodyguard of an outspoken politician.

Al-Qaeda said one of its militants walked into a crowd of Iraqis waiting to enlist at a Baghdad base and set off an explosive belt.

Two soldiers and 13 recruits were killed, an interior ministry official said.

“I came to Baghdad from Hilla with two friends to join the army,” said Mohammed Abdel Hussein, 22, who suffered a head wound. “We were queuing with several other young people when there was an enormous explosion in the middle of the group.”

In another deadly attack in the capital on Tuesday, gunmen sprayed gunfire on the car of Mithal al-Alusi, an outspoken politician who favours normalising ties with Israel.

“Yes, my two sons died and my bodyguard as well. It was a gunfire attack on my car near my house,” said 52-year-old Mr Alusi, who added that he believed he was the target.

Mr Alusi, who escaped a grenade attack last month, was waiting for his car when the gunmen opened fire on the vehicle.

After he became the first Iraqi politician to visit Israel, Mr Alusi and his Democratic Party of the Iraqi Nation were expelled from the Iraqi National Congress, the party of the maverick Ahmed Chalabi.

“I will repeat it, even if these terrorists try to kill me again, peace is the only solution. Peace with Israel is the only solution for Iraq. Peace with everybody, but no peace for the terrorists,” said a shell-shocked Mr Alusi.

In other bloodshed eleven other people were killed in northern Iraq.

Four Iraqis were killed by bombs in Salahedin province, and Ansar al-Sunna, an Al-Qaeda ally, said in an Internet statement that it had killed an Iraqi it accused of working for US forces.

The bodies of two other people who worked on US bases were found near Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown.

At Mosul, Iraq’s third largest city, two members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party were shot dead, while Iraqi soldiers killed two civilians who did not stop at a checkpoint near Baiji.

The new bloodshed came as four Egyptian engineers who were abducted on Sunday but released the next day prepared to return home.

There was no news however about Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who was abducted in Baghdad on Friday.

An Islamist group that says it is holding the correspondent for the left-wing daily Il Manifesto and has threatened to kill her said in an Internet statement that she would be freed “in the next few days”.

In further possible proof of the former regime’s involvement in current violence, the Iraqi government said it had arrested last month Bashir Matar al-Tikriti, a relative of Saddam’s.

A government statement said Matar al-Tikriti was suspected of having sheltered wanted members of the old regime, including Saddam’s younger son Qusay before he was killed in July 2003, and of having financed and armed the insurgency.

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