A police officer said the victims were from a first batch of men called from across Diyala to participate in a military-recruitment drive.

The dead in Diyala were mostly youths who had hoped to get a job in the army [AFP]
"The bombers blew themselves up amid the crowd. One bomber was dressed in Iraqi military uniform, while the other was wearing civilian clothes," the officer said.

He said the base also housed some American troops, but the US military said it did not suffer any casualties in the attack.

Diyala in general, and Baquba in particular, remains one of the most dangerous areas in Iraq with frequent suicide attacks, including several by female bombers, and car bombs.

"Very soon there will be a big operation by our security forces in Diyala," Major-General Abul Karim Khalaf, an interior ministry spokesman, said on Sunday without giving a specific timeframe.

"There will be fighting. It is going to be tough."

In another incident, Karim Wahid, Iraq's electricity minister, escaped unharmed when a roadside bomb exploded in eastern Baghdad, wounding three of his bodyguards, security officials said.