ISIL suicide attacks kill 32 in southern Iraq

ISIL suicide attacks kill 32 in southern Iraq

BAGHDAD - Reuters
ISIL suicide attacks kill 32 in southern Iraq

Fighters from the Iraqi pro-government forces take a break during an operation to retake the town of al-Bashir, near Kirkuk, from the ISIL group, on April 30, 2016

Two suicide car bombs claimed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) killed at least 32 people and wounded 75 others in the centre of the southern Iraqi city of Samawa on May 1, police and medics said. 

The first blast was near a local government building and the second one about 60 metres (65 yards) away at a bus station, police sources said. The death toll was expected to keep rising. 

Unverified online photographs showed a large plume of smoke rising above the buildings as well as burnt out cars and bodies on the ground at the site of one of the blasts, including several children. Police and firefighters carried victims on stretchers and in their arms. 

ISIL said it had attacked a gathering of special forces in Samawa, 230 km (140 miles) south of the capital, with one car bomb and then blew up the second when security forces responded to the site. 

ISIL holds positions mostly in Sunni areas of the country's north and west, far from the mainly Shi'ite southern provinces where Samawa is located. Such attacks are relatively rare. 

The rise of the ultra-hardline Sunni insurgents has exacerbated Iraq's sectarian conflict, mostly between Shi'ites and Sunnis, which emerged after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. 

The quota-based governing system put in place by the United States at the time is being challenged by hundreds of protesters who camped out overnight in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone after storming the parliament building.