Death toll rises to 38 in IS suicide bombing at Iraqi funeral

  • AP, Baghdad
  • Updated: Mar 01, 2016 01:35 IST
Mourners react over the coffin of their relative, who was killed in a bomb attack in Baghdad, during the funeral in Najaf, south of Baghdad, February 29, 2016. (REUTERS)

The death toll has risen to 38 after an IS suicide bomber struck an Iraqi funeral Monday, wounding dozens in a crowded reception room. A local Shiite militia leader is among the dead in a town north of Baghdad that saw a wave of revenge attacks after a similar bombing in January.

Another 58 people were wounded in the bombing in Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles (90 kilometers) north of the capital, according to security and hospital officials.

The dead included a local commander in Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a powerful Shiite militia that is part of the state-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Forces, responsible for much of the security in the area. The attacker was wearing a suicide vest and entered the funeral hall among mourners lining up to pay their respects to the militia leader, according to a local security official.

The Islamic State group bombed a cafe frequented by militiamen in Muqdadiyah in January, killing at least 32 people and triggering a wave of revenge attacks on Sunni mosques and civilians. The New York-based Human Rights Watch blamed the reprisal attacks on powerful militias within the Popular Mobilization Forces.

The Islamic State group also claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack in a statement posted online. On Sunday a double bombing in Baghdad claimed by the IS group killed 73 people.

The initial blast on Sunday ripped through a crowded market in the Shiite district of Sadr City. A suicide bomber then targeted the crowd that gathered to help the victims. Two police officials said 112 people remain hospitalized. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Sunday’s bombings marked the deadliest single attack in the Iraqi capital in months, fueling fears that the IS group is resorting to mass attacks on civilians as it suffers battlefield setbacks.

IS still controls much of northern and western Iraq, but has been driven back in recent months. The government recently declared the western city of Ramadi “fully liberated.” IS had captured the city last year.

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