Child among three killed in Baghdad blast

The Mreydi souk is an important hub for illegal weapons sales and the area has seen years of violence since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 14 August 2018
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Child among three killed in Baghdad blast

  • A source from the security services said that a woman and a child were among those killed
  • Authorities did not detail the cause of the blast and said an investigation would be launched

BAGHDAD: Three people were killed Tuesday in an explosion at a market in Baghdad, including a woman and child according to a security source.
The blast struck in the Shiite bastion of Sadr City, a sprawling district where authorities regularly carry out raids close to the busy market to seize illegal weapons.
“Three people were killed and four others injured in an explosion in a covered market near the Mreydi souk in Sadr City,” Baghdad’s military operations command said in a statement.
A source from the security services told AFP that a woman and a child were among those killed.
Authorities did not detail the cause of the blast and said an investigation would be launched.
The Mreydi souk is an important hub for illegal weapons sales and the area has seen years of violence since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In June, at least 16 people were killed and some 30 injured in an explosion at a house in the area where weapons were stored.
Sadr City is the former bastion of the Mahdi Army, which before being dissolved was blamed by Washington for killing US soldiers and thousands of Sunni Muslims.
The militia was led by Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, whose political alliance triumphed in this year’s parliamentary elections.
Violence has fallen in Iraq and particularly Baghdad, which suffered numerous extremist attacks, since the government declared victory over Daesh in December.
But despite government forces retaking all of Iraq’s towns and cities from Daesh, clandestine extremist cells remain present, analysts say.


Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loom

Alister Shepherd, the director of a subsidiary of FireEye, during a presentation about the APT33 in Dubai Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 9 min 52 sec ago
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Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loom

  • The firm warns that this raises the danger level ahead of America re-imposing crushing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in early November.
  • Iran’s mission to the UN rejected FireEye’s report, calling it “categorically false.”

DUBAI: An Iranian government-aligned group of hackers launched a major campaign targeting Mideast energy firms and others ahead of US sanctions on Iran, a cybersecurity firm said Tuesday, warning further attacks remain possible as America reimposes others on Tehran.

While the firm FireEye says the so-called “spear-phishing” email campaign only involves hackers stealing information from infected computers, it involves a similar type of malware previously used to inject a program that destroyed tens of thousands of terminals in Saudi Arabia.

The firm warns that this raises the danger level ahead of America re-imposing crushing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in early November.

“Whenever we see Iranian threat groups active in this region, particularly in line with geopolitical events, we have to be concerned they might either be engaged in or pre-positioning for a disruptive attack,” Alister Shepherd, a director for a FireEye subsidiary, told The Associated Press.

Iran’s mission to the UN rejected FireEye’s report, calling it “categorically false.”

“Iran’s cyber capabilities are purely defensive, and these claims made by private firms are a form of false advertising designed to attract clients,” the mission said in a statement. “They should not be taken at face value.”

FireEye, which often works with governments and large corporations, refers to the group of Iranian hackers as APT33, an acronym for “advanced persistent threat.” APT33 used phishing email attacks with fake job opportunities to gain access to the companies affected, faking domain names to make the messages look legitimate. Analysts described the emails as “spear-phishing” as they appear targeted in nature.

FireEye first discussed the group last year around the same time. This year, the company briefed journalists after offering presentations to potential government clients in Dubai at a luxury hotel and yacht club on the man-made, sea-horse-shaped Daria Island.

While acknowledging their sales pitch, FireEye warned of the danger such Iranian government-aligned hacking groups pose. Iran is believed to be behind the spread of Shamoon in 2012, which hit Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas. The virus deleted hard drives and then displayed a picture of a burning American flag on computer screens. Saudi Aramco ultimately shut down its network and destroyed over 30,000 computers.

A second version of Shamoon raced through Saudi government computers in late 2016, this time making the destroyed computers display a photograph of the body of 3-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, who drowned fleeing his country’s civil war.

But Iran first found itself as a victim of a cyberattack. Iran developed its cyber capabilities in 2011 after the Stuxnet computer virus destroyed thousands of centrifuges involved in Iran’s contested nuclear program. Stuxnet is widely believed to be an American and Israeli creation.

APT33’s emails haven’t been destructive. However, from July 2 through July 29, FireEye saw “a by-factors-of-10 increase” in the number of emails the group sent targeting their clients, Shepherd said.