BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq has claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb attack against police officers and cadets that killed 19 people in Baghdad on February 19, a group that monitors online communication among insurgents said.
The car exploded as it careered into a crowd of cadets who had just been escorted out of a police academy in central Baghdad and were standing in the street.
The U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group said the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an umbrella group for al Qaeda-linked Sunni insurgents, claimed responsibility for the incident in a statement posted on Islamist websites on Friday.
"The lion of Islam Sheikh Abu Ghassan al-Ansari penetrated the gates of the academy with his explosives-laden vehicle ... and detonated his vehicle," ISI was quoted by SITE as saying.
SITE said the group also listed 29 operations carried out around Baghdad between February 13-29, which targeted Iraqi forces and officials.
ISI said on Thursday it was behind attacks in western Iraq on March 5 that killed 27 members of the security forces.
Bombings and killings occur daily in Iraq, which is still plagued by a lethal Sunni insurgency and Shi'ite militias, although overall violence has decreased since the height of sectarian fighting in 2006-07.
(Reporting by Aseel Kami; Editing by Serena Chaudhry)