09/15/2017, 10.30
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Nassiriya, an ISIS double attack: at least 74 victims, including Iranian pilgrims

The jihadists hit a security checkpoint and a restaurant on the outskirts of the city. Over 90 injured, six militants killed in the clash with security agents. The area is an important means of communication used by Shiite pilgrims to reach the holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala.

Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least 74 people, including several Iranian citizens, were victims of the twin bombing claimed by militants from the Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis) in Iraq. Jihadist militants hit near the southern city of Nassirya, causing over 90 wounded some of them seriously. They targeted a security checkpoint and a restaurant.

The agents stopped another attack on a second restaurant, triggering a shootout with the attackers; six extremist militias were killed.

Abdel Hussein al-Jabri, deputy head of the Department of Health of the Shiite majority in Dhiqar province, speaks of dozens of victims including seven Iranian citizens. It is the worst attack on Iraqi territory perpetrated by the men of the "Caliphate" since the liberation of Mosul in recent weeks, a longtime stronghold of jihadists in the country.

Local sources report that the attackers were disguised as members of the security forces of Hashed al-Shaabi, a Shiite paramilitary alliance that fights - alongside the army and the police - Daesh [Arabic acronym for IS] in northern Iraq. Nassiriya is about 345 km south of the capital Baghdad and is largely inhabited by Shiite Muslims.

Abu Ali, one of the dozens of people present at the time of the attack, reports that he was heading to the Fadek al-Zahra restaurant together with his wife when, a short distance away, he saw a group of paramilitary groups trying to force their way inside. "We continued to walk in the direction of the venue," he continued, thinking that they were Iraqi troops. A few seconds later we heard gunshots and people screaming. " "My wife - he concludes - shouted 'terrorists' and fled." The assailants then fled after killing most of the customers present at the time in the restaurant.

The carcasses of burnt-out vehicles still lie at  the scene of the twin attack, including dozens of cars, trucks and public transport vehicles. The affected area is crossed by an important communication channel used by Shiite pilgrims and foreign visitors, especially Iranians, to reach the holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala, to the north.

The Islamic State has claimed the attack in a statement on Amaq webite, often used by jihadists to relaunch propaganda and calls to holy war. The text exults for the death of "dozens of Shiites".

The Iraqi Parliament has condemned the "cowardly" gesture that has targeted "innocent people". MPs have not spared criticism of security members inside and around the city, for failing to prevent the massacre.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi army's offensive against Jihadist militias continues, which last week took control of the city of Tal Afar. Now the next goal is the Al-Qaim jihadist bastion, on the border with Syria. Along with the town of Hawija, in the province of Kirkuk, 300km north of Baghdad, it is one of the last IS strongholds in Iraq.

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See also
Massive security measures for Shiite pilgrims in Kerbala
Security reasons cut size of delegation from national conference to Najaf
Thousands of pilgrims reach Karbala in defiance of al-Zarqawi's threats
Bloody weekend in Baghdad: dead and wounded in jihadist attacks
09/11/2020 10:34
Car bomb among the pilgrims in Kerbala, at least 10 dead


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