x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Civilians among dead in Baghdad double suicide bombing

A double suicide bombing has killed eight people at an Iraqi defence ministry complex that three weeks ago was hit by a massive suicide attack which killed dozens.

A double suicide bombing has killed eight people at an Iraqi defence ministry complex that three weeks ago was hit by a massive suicide attack which killed dozens, a health official said. A suicide bomber blew up a minibus at the rear gate of the Rusafa Military Command headquarters in east Baghdad at about 10.50am (7.50am GMT), said Major General Qassim Atta, a security forces spokesman in the capital.

A policeman told an AFP reporter at the blast site that a second suicide attacker, wearing an explosives-filled belt, then rushed on to the scene and blew himself up - an account backed up by an interior ministry official. A health official at Baghdad's Medical City Hospital said she had counted eight bodies, mostly civilians but including some soldiers, and that 25 people had been wounded. The blast caused extensive damage to nearby buildings and Dr Adil Saloom, the director of the hospital's emergency department, said 20 patients had suffered fractures and abdominal injuries, probably as a result of falling masonry.

He said he expected more casualties to arrive as clashes were continuing at the site of the explosion. The largest blast sent plumes of smoke into the skies over the capital. Security officials reported two almost simultaneous explosions and said the minibus bomber was assisted by two suicide attackers on foot. A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a red vehicle had managed to pass through a preliminary checkpoint but it exploded at a second checkpoint.

"It was a suicide attack," he said. "Then several gunmen tried to rush into the compound and fired at soldiers. Then a suicide bomber came to the checkpoint where the clashes were occurring and blew himself up." The Interior and defence ministry officials said the third suicide bomber had failed to fully detonate his explosives belt and that he was wounded but they feared approaching him because of the threat of secondary blasts.

An AFP reporter at the scene said witnesses reported armed clashes and soldiers near the blast site were refusing to allow people to pass by because of a persistent stream of single gunshots in the area. A soldier at the scene said he saw a large number of troops among the casualties and that the gunshots may be being fired by a sniper. *AFP