Suicide bombers kill at least 60 people in southern Iraq, Islamic State claims responsibility

Suicide bombers kill at least 60 people in southern Iraq, Islamic State claims responsibility

Suicide bombers kill at least 60 people in southern Iraq, Islamic State claims responsibility

Updated 15 September 2017, 5:15 AEST

Suicide bombings on two restaurants and a police checkpoint in Iraq claimed by Islamic State militants kill at least 60 people and wound more than 100 others, health and police officials say.

Three suicide attacks claimed by Islamic State (IS) militants have killed at least 60 people in southern Iraq and wounded more than 100 others, health and police officials say.

Wearing security force uniforms and driving stolen army vehicles, the attackers targeted a police checkpoint and two restaurants on a highway near the city of Nassiriya, using car bombs, guns and suicide vests.

The deadliest attack was at one of the restaurants just west of Nassiriya.

"One attacker blew up his suicide vest inside the crowded restaurant while a group of other gunmen started to throw grenades and fire at diners," police colonel Ali Abdul Hussain said.

Police sources said some police officers had died in the checkpoint attack, but the toll from that incident remained unclear.

The head of Nassiriya's health directorate, Jasim al-Khalidi, said the city's hospital had received 50 bodies while warning that the death toll could rise due to the critical condition of some of the wounded.

Hospital sources said at least 10 Iranian pilgrims, who were visiting holy Shiite shrines, were among the dead.

IS was quick to claim responsibility for the attack on its official online Amaq publication — the ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim militant group said it had killed "dozens of Shiites".

IS activity is usually concentrated in western and northern Iraq. Bomb attacks in southern Iraq, where the bulk of the country's oil is produced, are relatively rare.

The attack occurred while Iraqi forces are battling to defeat IS militants in areas under their control.

Security officials described the attacks as an attempt to send a message to IS followers that the group is still strong and can operate in other parts of Iraq following its territorial losses, including that of its former stronghold Mosul.

"After losing the war in Iraq and the shrinking of its power, Daesh [Islamic State] returned back to its old style of an insurgency by carrying out suicide attacks, which is a clear sign that the terrorist group is retreating," police intelligence colonel Murtatha al-Yassiri said.

Reuters

Topics: