Monday 27 March 2017

Death toll from suicide bomb attack in Iraq climbs to 61

A man reacts at the site of a bomb attack at a checkpoint in the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad. Photo: Reuters
A man reacts at the site of a bomb attack at a checkpoint in the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad. Photo: Reuters

Dean Gray

IRAQI officials said yesterday that the death toll from the weekend suicide truck bombing south of Baghdad is now 61.

Among the dead were 52 civilians, while the rest were members of the security forces, a police officer said. Another 95 people were injured in the attack that targeted a security checkpoint at one of the entrances to the city of Hillah. The officer said eight others were still missing.

A medical official confirmed the casualty figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to release information. Hillah is located about 95km south of Baghdad.

Hours after the attack, Isil claimed responsibility in an online statement. Its authenticity could not immediately be verified, but its language and phrasing is consistent with past Isil claims of responsibility.

Iraq has seen a spike in violence in the past month, with suicide attacks claimed by Isil killing more than 170 people. Sunday's bombing was the third massive bombing in a little over a week against security forces and the country's Shiite majority. These attacks follow a string of advances by Iraqi forces backed by US-led airstrikes, including in the western city of Ramadi.

The latest push could be seen as an attempt by Isil to stage attacks deep behind the front lines in order to wreak havoc and force the government to overextend its forces. Hillah is in the country's mainly Shiite south, far from the front lines of the war against Isil.

The United States and its allies conducted 18 strikes against Isil in Iraq and Syria yesterday in their latest round of daily strikes, according to the coalition leading the operations. The Combined Joint Task Force said it had staged a dozen strikes in Iraq and six in Syria.

Irish Independent

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