Suicide bombing targets Shia pilgrims in Iraq

Suicide bombing targets Shia pilgrims in Iraq
Shia pilgrims returning from the city of Samarra were targeted by a suicide car bomb Thursday, leaving eight dead and 16 wounded.
2 min read
23 April, 2015
Iraqi troops have been fighting IS in several parts of Iraq (Getty)
Eight Shia pilgrims were killed in Iraq on Thursday after a suicide car bomb exploded near them in the town of Balad, leaving 16 others wounded.

The pilgrims were returning from the city of Samarra, 125 kilometers (78 miles) north of the capital Baghdad which is home to the shrine of two Shia imams, Ali al-Hadi and Hassan al-Askari.

Police and a local official told AP that the attack happened overnight.

The pilgrims had been attending a ceremony marking the death of one of the imams before they were targeted.

IS 'sending fighters to Iraq'

The Islamic State group (IS, formerly ISIS) have brought thousands of fighters from Syria to Iraq in an attempt to reclaim territory lost in recent weeks to the Iraqi state, according to a tribal leader in Iraq's western Anbar province, a hotbed of IS activity.

IS was recently defeated in Tikrit and has had to pull back from parts of Anbar in the face of an offensive from the Iraqi government and allied militias.

The deputy-leader of Anbar's local council, Faleh al-Issawi, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that Syrian fighters had been brought in to reclaim Ramadi, a major town in Anbar.

"The terrorist organisation [IS] has relied on fighters from Syria... so as to retake control of the areas they have been expelled from in Ramadi, after the recent clashes between them and the Iraqi government and tribes," Issawi said.

Issawi also said that IS fighters had been making using suicide car bombs and rockets in an attempt to craft out an opening in the fight to retake Ramadi, but that they had been unsuccesful.