Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Iraq

At Least 35 People Killed In Islamic State Attacks In Iraq

By RFE/RL

An Islamic State attack in a busy shopping area of Baghdad and other blasts around the country claimed at least 35 lives on January 11 in one of Iraq's worst days of violence in months.

The IS attackers on a mall in eastern Baghdad used suicide vests and guns and took hostages before setting off their explosives, killing at least 12 people, police and witnesses said.

IS appeared to be behind most the of multiple attacks in and around Baghdad, which Reuters said had killed at least 51 people, in the biggest single-day death toll in three months.

"A car came... Gunmen came out of it and spread out. They started shooting, killing people, there were lots of dead people," a witness at the Baghdad mall, Salman Hussein, told AFP.

The shocked young man recounted how one of the attackers held a shop owner and spoke on a mobile phone before detonating his suicide belt.

"The car they came in was laden with explosives and also blew up," he said.

A senior police officer confirmed that the attackers took hostages, but the head of Baghdad Operations Command, Lieutenant General Abdelamir al-Shammari, denied that and said the situation was quickly brought under control.

"When the security forces got too close, they killed three hostages," the police officer told AFP.

The mall attack appeared different from IS's usual mode of operation in Baghdad. The IS statement claiming responsibility said it was carried out by "four soldiers of the caliphate" and targeted "rejectionists," its derogatory term for Shi'ite Muslims.

IS said one of the attackers blew himself up in an explosives-laden vehicle when "the apostates sent reinforcements."

Police and hospital sources put the casualty toll from the attack, one of the worst to hit Baghdad in months, at 12 dead and more than 30 wounded.

At nearly the same time, in late afternoon, bombings killed at least 20 people at a cafe in the town of Muqdadiyah northeast of Baghdad, security officers said.

A bomb exploded at the cafe and a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle after people gathered at the scene, the officers said.

IS also claimed the Muqdadiyah attack and named the suicide bomber as Abu Abdallah, an Iraqi.

The security officers said that Shi'a set alight several Sunni homes and a mosque following the attack.

The mixed province of Diyala, where Muqdadiyah is located, was declared liberated by the government almost a year ago but attacks have continued.

At least three people were killed and eight wounded in another car bomb blast in Nahrawan, south of Baghdad.

As with the other attacks, the blast occurred in an area that is usually peaceful and not on the frontlines of Iraq's war with IS.

Reuters reported that another three people were killed and eight others wounded when a car bomb claimed by IS went off near a restaurant in Baquba, 40 miles northeast of Baghdad.

IS appeared to be lashing out after suffering a number of military setbacks across Iraq in recent months, including losing control of the second largest city it once held -- Ramadi, the capital of western Anbar province.

Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan blamed "this terrorist group after they suffered heavy losses by the security forces." 

The European Union in a statement expressed support for embattled Iraqis and said "these tragic events underline the fragility of the security situation."

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
 

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