Tuesday 21 January 2020

Suicide bomb attacks at soccer match leave 10 dead

Mazin Yahya in Baghdad

THREE suicide bombers blew themselves up at a sports field in northern Iraq yesterday, killing at least 10 people and wounding another 120 during a football match. The attack took place during a game in the town of Tal Afar, which lies between the Syrian border and the volatile city of Mosul.

The first bomber waited until the end of the match before detonating his car bomb amid a crowd of supporters and players near the field's entrance. In the ensuing panic, two other attackers activated their suicide belts inside the crowd.

The sports field was located in a majority Shiite neighbourhood in the ethnically Turkomen town that has been repeatedly targeted by suicide bombers over the years. Many of the wounded were taken by ambulance to Dahuk, some 95kms away, because local hospitals were overburdened.

Once an insurgent stronghold, Tal Afar became a test case for the US military's counterinsurgency strategy in 2005, and was largely pacified. But it remained a target, however, and has gone through cycles of stability and instability for years.

The violence came on the same day the new al-Qa'ida leader in Iraq said a fresh campaign of violence was under way and warned Shiites that "dark days soaked with blood" lay ahead.

There are fears that with a new round of attacks, al-Qa'ida is hoping to provoke a backlash against Sunnis and reignite the sectarian bloodshed that brought the country to the brink of civil war in 2006 and 2007.

Irish Independent

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