Tikrit, Jan 18 (Agencies): Atleast 50 were killed and over 150 injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up among a crowd of police recruits in the Iraqi city of Tikrit on Tuesday, an interior ministry official said.

The blast was the deadliest to hit Iraq since an October 31 siege at a Baghdad church left 53 people dead, and was the first major attack in the country since the formation of a new government on December 21.

"Fifty people were killed and 150 wounded by a suicide bomber at a police recruitment centre in Tikrit," the official said in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"A suicide attacker blew himself up at a police recruitment centre in the middle of Tikrit this morning," a police officer in the city said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

Among the dead were recruits and policemen, he said, without giving details.

A journalist said the bomb site in the middle of Tikrit, the former hometown of now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein, 160 kilometres north of the Iraqi capital, was covered in torn off flesh and pools of blood, with pieces of clothing and shoes scattered across the scene.

Policemen and soldiers had cordoned off the blast site and several ambulances were rushing wounded people to a nearby hospital.

Witnesses, who declined to be identified, said the recruits had been queuing to enter the centre since 6:00 am, with the attacker detonating his payload at the entrance to the site at around 10:15 am (01245 IST).

The death toll was the highest from a single attack since Al-Qaeda insurgents stormed a Baghdad church on October 31 with the ensuing siege leading to the deaths of 44 worshippers, two priests and seven security force members.