Islamic State car bombs kill at least 33 in Iraq
BAGHDAD: The Islamic State group carried out rare attacks in Iraq’s deep Shi’ite south, killing at least 33 people with twin suicide car bomb blasts in the city of Samawah.”The hospitals have received 33 dead,” a senior official in the Muthanna health department, which covers Samawah, said.
An officer in Muthanna Operations Command confirmed the toll.They said at least 50 people were also wounded in the blasts in Samawa, 230 kilometres south of Baghdad.”Two car bombs went off in town. The first one was at around midday near a bus station in the city centre,” a senior police officer in Muthanna province said.
“The other exploded about five minutes later, 400 metres from the spot of the first explosion,” he said.Police and firefighters carried victims on stretchers and in their arms.IS issued a statement on social media claiming two suicide attackers detonated their car bombs against members of the security forces.
Samawa is the capital of Muthanna and lies deep in Iraq’s Shi’ite heartland and such attacks there are rare.IS holds positions mostly in Sunni areas of the country’s north and west, far from the mainly Shia southern provinces. A car bomb just outside Baghdad yesterday killed at least 23 people, according to security and medical sources.
That attack targeted Shi’ite faithful walking to the northern Baghdad shrine of Imam Musa Kadhim.The Iraqi capital has been on high security alert all week as the faithful walk from all over the country to commemorate Imam Kadhim.
IS, which considers Shi’ites heretics, almost systematically attempts to target pilgrims marching to holy sites during Iraq’s many religious commemorations.Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other political leaders promised today to deliver on radical reforms and stem a deepening crisis as protesters held an unprecedented sit-in inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified government district.
Iraq has endured months of wrangling prompted by Mr Abadi’s attempt to replace party-affiliated ministers with technocrats as part of an anti-corruption drive. A divided parliament has failed to approve the proposal amid scuffles and protests.
Deep frustration among Iraqis over the deadlock culminated in a dramatic breach of the Green Zone yesterday by supporters of powerful Shi’ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Mr Sadr wants to see Mr Abadi’s proposed technocrat government approved, ending a quota system that its opponents say has encouraged corruption.Powerful parties have resisted, fearing the dismantling of patronage networks that have sustained the political elite’s wealth and influence for more than a decade.
Mr Abadi has warned continued turmoil could hamper the war against IS, which controls vast swathes of northern and western Iraq.The Green Zone, a 10 square kilometre district on the banks of the Tigris River which also houses many foreign embassies, has been off-limits to most Iraqis since the US-led invasion in 2003. Its breach is unprecedented.