Friday 15 December 2017

Dozen dead after Iraqi jet drops bomb by mistake

A man carries an injured child found in the rubble after an Iraqi Sukhoi jet accidentally dropped a bomb in the Ni’iriya district of New Baghdad. Photo: Reuters
A man carries an injured child found in the rubble after an Iraqi Sukhoi jet accidentally dropped a bomb in the Ni’iriya district of New Baghdad. Photo: Reuters

Murfada Faraj

An Iraqi jet accidentally dropped a bomb over a Baghdad neighbourhood yesterday killing at least 12 people on the ground, Iraqi officials said.

The plane - one of several Russian-made Sukhois used by Iraq in the fight against Isil - was returning to base when the accident happened.

Military spokesman Brig Gen Saad Maan Ibrahim said that a technical failure caused the Sukhoi jet to malfunction and drop the bomb, which hit a number of houses in the Iraqi capital's eastern neighbourhood of New Baghdad.

Three children and two women were among the 12 killed and at least 25 others were wounded. Footage from the scene shows rescue teams in orange jumpsuits and blue helmets searching through the rubble for victims. At least one victim was seen wrapped with a blanket and being rushed to an ambulance.

Iraq is going through its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of US troops, with Isil in control of large swaths of the country's territory in the north and the west following a blitz last year when the Sunni militants captured Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul and the majority of the western Anbar province.

Meanwhile, an Isil militant blew up an explosive-laden bulldozer near Haditha, killing seven Iraqi soldiers in one of a wave of bomb attacks on the northwestern town yesterday.

Haditha and its nearby dam lie in one of the few parts of the huge western province of Anbar still under the control of Iraq's Shi'ite-led government forces, which were driven out of the provincial capital Ramadi in May.

Security services said they fired on and destroyed four other vehicles believed to be rigged with explosives near the town, before they could reach their targets. The coordinated assault reflected an escalation of Isil operations in the final days of Ramadan.

In a statement two weeks ago, Isil spokesman Abu Mohammad Adnani called for increased attacks during Ramadan, and specifically mentioned Haditha.

A car bomb also exploded yesterday in the town of Jubba, about 30km southeast of Haditha, close to the Ain al-Asad air base where US forces have been training Sunni Muslim fighters from Anbar to take on Isil. A police source said seven soldiers were killed.

The Sunni Muslim province of Anbar is a stronghold of Isil militants who control swaths of Iraq and Syria, including the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, capital of their self-declared caliphate.

In Iraq, the Islamist militants have been driven out of the city of Tikrit and eastern province of Diyala, but have launched repeated strikes to retake lost ground in the refinery town of Baiji, north of Tikrit.

Army troops and fighters from the mainly Shi'ite Muslim Hashd Shaabi militias - backed by a US-led air campaign - have stepped up their counter-offensive in Anbar, cutting off a northern supply route to Isil-held Falluja as they tighten an attempted siege of the city, just 40km west of Baghdad.

A source in Anbar said security forces recaptured a bridge north of Ramadi yesterday in an attack which killed 14 Isil fighters.

In northeast Iraq, Isil fighters launched an attack early yesterday against Kurdish peshmerga forces in the village of Murah, near the city of Kirkuk. A Kurdish police officer said peshmerga fighters, backed by air strikes, repelled the attack at around dawn after five hours of fighting. A statement issued in the name of the Islamic State said the Islamists had taken one peshmerga fighter prisoner.

Kurdish forces later drove around with the bodies of dead militants splayed on the bonnets of their armoured vehicles.

Irish Independent

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