Islamic State kills 24 in Baghdad blast,
cuts road to Mosul
Send a link to a friend
[January 02, 2017]
By Kareem Raheem and Ghazwan Hassan
BAGHDAD/TIKRIT, Iraq (Reuters) - An Islamic
State car bomb killed 24 people in a busy square in Baghdad's sprawling
Sadr City district on Monday, and the militants cut a key road north
from the capital to Mosul, their last major stronghold in the country.
An online statement distributed by Amaq news agency, which supports
Islamic State, said the ultra-hardline Sunni group had targeted a
gathering of Shi'ite Muslims, whom it considers apostates. Sixty-seven
people were wounded in the blast.
U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are currently fighting to push Islamic State
from the northern city of Mosul, but are facing fierce resistance. The
group has lost most of the territory it seized in a blitz across
northern and western Iraq in 2014.
The recapture of Mosul would probably spell the end for its self-styled
caliphate, but the militants would still be capable of fighting a
guerrilla-style insurgency in Iraq, and plotting or inspiring attacks on
Three bombs killed 29 people across the capital on Saturday, and an
attack near the southern city of Najaf on Sunday left seven policemen
Monday's blast in Sadr City hit a square where day laborers typically
Nine of the victims were women in a passing minibus. Their charred
bodies were visible inside the burnt-out remains of the vehicle. Blood
stained the ground nearby.
"The terrorists will attempt to attack civilians in order to make up for
their losses, but we assure the Iraqi people and the world that we are
able to end terrorism and shorten its life," Prime Minister Haider
al-Abadi told reporters after meeting with visiting French President
ROAD TO MOSUL
Since the drive to recapture Mosul began on Oct. 17, elite forces have
retaken a quarter of the city in the biggest ground operation in Iraq
since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. Abadi has
said the group will be driven out of the country by April.
[to top of second column]
People look at a burned vehicle at the site of car bomb attack in a
busy square at Baghdad's sprawling Sadr City district, in Iraq
January 2, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad
As clashes continued in and around Mosul on Monday, Islamic State
also targeted military positions away from the main battlefield,
killing at least 16 pro-government fighters and cutting a strategic
road linking the city to Baghdad.
Militants attacked an army barracks near Baiji, 180 km (110 miles)
north of the capital, killing four soldiers and wounding 12 people,
including Sunni tribal fighters, army and police sources said.
They seized weapons there and launched mortars at nearby Shirqat,
forcing security forces to impose a curfew and close schools and
offices in the town, according to local officials and security
Shirqat mayor Ali Dodah said Islamic State seized three checkpoints
on the main road linking Baiji to Shirqat following the attacks.
Shelling in Shirqat had killed at least two children, he told
Reuters by phone.
In a separate incident, gunmen broke into a village near Udhaim, 90
km (56 miles) north of Baghdad, where they executed nine Sunni
tribal fighters with shots to the head, police and medical sources
At least three pro-government Shi'ite militia fighters were also
killed and seven wounded when militants attacked their position near
Udhaim with mortar rounds and machine guns, police sources said.
(Writing by Stephen Kalin and Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Mark
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.