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Suicide, gun attacks by IS leave 50 dead in Iraq’s south

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By NP Newsroom

IRAQ: At least 50 people have been killed in two deadly attacks in southern Iraq.

A suicide bomber blew himself up and gunmen opened fire inside a restaurant near Nasiriya, capital of Iraq’s Dhiqar province. Soon afterwards, a car bomb exploded at a nearby checkpoint.

So-called Islamic State said it carried out the attacks. Shia Muslim pilgrims including Iranians are thought to be among the dead. More than 80 people were injured in the attacks, many of them seriously, and the death toll could rise.

According to one report, the attackers were disguised as members of Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) – a mainly Shia group that has fought alongside Iraqi forces against IS. Though IS is being defeated in various battles and falling back from the front lines in both Iraq and Syria, they can launch devastating assaults on soft targets, says a BBC report. It is still believed to have hundreds of followers prepared to carry out attacks.

However, such attacks are relatively rare in southern Iraq, and Dhiqar province has previously been spared some of the worst of Iraq’s violence. The area targeted is on a main road frequented by Shia pilgrims and visitors from Iran on their way to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala to the north.

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