2 dead, many wounded in Iraq car bomb blast

Al-Qaim was recaptured from Islamic State in November 2017 and was the last Daesh bastion in Iraq to fall last year. (File/AFP)
Updated 11 January 2019
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2 dead, many wounded in Iraq car bomb blast

  • No immediate claim of responsibility for the attack
  • The Iraqi army is closing camps for people displaced by war in Anbar and pressuring families to return to their communities before basic services have been restored

BAGHDAD: A car bomb blast killed at least two people and injured more than a dozen in the Iraqi town of Al-Qaim on the Syrian border on Friday, a statement from Iraq’s military said.

According to an Iraq’s Health Ministry statement, 25 others were wounded in a city to which displaced families are being encouraged to return. It did not give further details.

Al-Qaim, a city along the border with Syria in Iraq’s western Anbar province, was one of the last cities recaptured from Daesh militants in 2017. It was the group’s last bastion in Iraq to fall last year.

The Iraqi army is closing camps for people displaced by war in Anbar and pressuring families to return to their communities before basic services have been restored, according to a recent Associated Press report.

Nearly 40,000 Iraqis have returned to their communities in Al-Qaim and the surrounding district, according to data from the UN.

A local senior police source put the number killed at three, with 23 injured. The military and the police said four members of the security forces were among those injured.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast in Al-Qaim, which went off in the middle of a busy market on Friday morning. It was described by the military in its statement as a terrorist attack.

Terrorist attack

Earlier this week, a car bomb blast killed two people and injured six in the Iraqi city of Tikrit, 150 km northwest of Baghdad.

The Tuesday blast, described by the military as a “terrorist attack,” occurred at a checkpoint at the northern entrance to Tikrit.

The two dead were police officers, according to a local police source and a hospital source. In its statement, the military referred to the two dead only as civilians.

The wounded included two soldiers, a police officer and three civilians, according to the police source.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast in Tikrit too, the hometown of late dictator Saddam Hussein, which was controlled by Daesh militants in 2014-15.

Iraq declared victory over Daesh militants in December 2017 after two years of fighting. However, Daesh militants have continued to carry out insurgent-style attacks on security forces across the country.

A recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which is a think tank based in Washington, found that while the total number of Daesh attacks in Iraq had dropped in 2018, those against government targets had increased compared to 2017. 

Observers are also worried that the bitter squabbles among Iraqi’s political forces could turn violent.


Damaged Japanese tanker arrives at UAE anchorage

Updated 39 min 9 sec ago
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Damaged Japanese tanker arrives at UAE anchorage

  • “Kokuka Courageous has arrived safely at the designated anchorage at Sharjah,” according to a statement
  • The other ship, the Front Altair, has left Iran’s territorial waters, multiple sources said Saturday

DUBAI: A Japanese tanker, attacked in the Gulf in an incident that sparked a new standoff between Washington and Tehran, “arrived safely” Sunday at an anchorage off the UAE, its management said.
The Kokuka Courageous was carrying highly flammable methanol through the Gulf of Oman on Thursday when it and the Norwegian-operated Front Altair were rocked by explosions.
The US and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of responsibility.
“Kokuka Courageous has arrived safely at the designated anchorage at Sharjah,” an emirate neighboring Dubai, the vessel’s Singapore-based BSM Ship Management said in a statement Sunday.
The crew, who remained on board, were “safe and well,” it said, adding that a damage assessment and preparations for transferring the ship’s cargo would start “once the port authorities have completed their standard security checks and formalities.”
BSM Ship Management had said earlier Kokuka Courageous was heading toward an anchorage on the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates, facing the Gulf of Oman.
The other ship, the Front Altair, has left Iran’s territorial waters, multiple sources said Saturday.
It was “heading toward the Fujairah-Khor Fakkan area in the United Arab Emirates,” the ports chief of Iran’s southern province of Hormozgan told the semi-official news agency ISNA.
A spokeswoman for Frontline Management, the Norwegian company which owns the ship, said “all 23 crew members of the tanker departed Iran” and flew to Dubai on Saturday.
The US military on Friday released grainy footage it said showed an Iranian patrol boat removing an “unexploded limpet mine” from the Japanese vessel.
Tehran has vehemently denied any involvement.
Iran has repeatedly warned in the past that it could block the strategic Hormuz Strait in a relatively low-tech, high-impact countermeasure to any attack by the United States.
Doing so would disrupt oil tankers traveling out of the Gulf region to the Indian Ocean and global export routes.