Suicide bombing, shootouts kill around 55 in Iraq

Civilians inspect the aftermath of a bomb attack targeting Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad's al-Ubeidi neighborhood, Iraq, on Oct. 12, 2016. On Saturday, an suicide bombing killed at least 31 people at a funeral gathering in northern Baghdad. (AP file photo)
Updated 15 October 2016
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Suicide bombing, shootouts kill around 55 in Iraq

BAGHDAD: Around 55 people were killed in Iraq in attacks on Saturday that targeted a Shiite Muslim gathering, a police check-point and the family of a Sunni paramilitary leader opposed to Daesh, according to security and medical sources.
The escalation comes as Iraqi forces are getting ready to launch an offensive to take back Mosul, the last Iraqi city still under control of Daesh, in northern Iraq.
The heaviest toll was caused by a suicide bomber who detonated an explosive vest in the middle of a Shiite gathering in Baghdad, killing at least 41 people and wounding 33.
The explosion went off inside a tent filled with people taking part in Shiite Ashura rituals.
Daesh claimed the attack in an online statement.
Some people were also in the tent to mourn the death of a local resident, authorities said. The tent was set up in a crowded market in the city’s northern Al-Shaab district.
Gunmen believed to belong to Daesh, a Sunni group, earlier in the day staged two attacks north of Baghdad, one targeting a police check-point and the other the house of a Sunni militia chief who supports the government, police sources said.
Eight policemen were killed and 11 others wounded in the first attack which took place Mutaibija, south of the city of the city of Tikrit, while the militants had three dead in their ranks.
In the second, the wife and three children of Numan Al-Mujamaie, the leader of the Ishaqi Mobilization militia, were killed when gunmen stormed his house in the town of Ishaq in his absence.
The assailants fled, chased by security forces, and later killed themselves by detonating explosive belts, police said.
Daesh has intensified bomb attacks in government-held areas this year as it loses territory to US-backed Iraqi government forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militias.
The group claimed a truck bombing in July that killed at least 324 people in the Karrada shopping area of Baghdad — the deadliest single attack in Iraq since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.


Palestinians to cut civil servant salaries after Israeli tax freeze

Updated 56 min 50 sec ago
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Palestinians to cut civil servant salaries after Israeli tax freeze

  • Israel's security cabinet on Sunday approved the freezing of $138 million (122 million euros) over the PA's payments to the families of prisoners, or prisoners themselves, jailed for attacks on Israelis
  • Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Wednesday he would not accept anything but full payment of the tax transfers owed by Israel

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian finance minister on Thursday announced salary cuts for civil servants, days after Israel said it would withhold tens of millions of dollars in tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority.
Israel's security cabinet on Sunday approved the freezing of $138 million (122 million euros) over the PA's payments to the families of prisoners, or prisoners themselves, jailed for attacks on Israelis.
Israel, which collects taxes on behalf of the PA, says the payments encourage further violence.
The PA claims they are a form of welfare to families who have lost their main breadwinner.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Wednesday he would not accept anything but full payment of the tax transfers owed by Israel.
The PA, which is already running a deficit, will "pay the salaries of civil servants in time, but they will be reduced", said PA finance minister Shukri Bishara after a meeting with EU representatives in Ramallah.
The cuts will not apply to salaries "paid to pensioners and families of martyrs, wounded or prisoners", he added, adding that wages below 2,000 shekels ($550) would also not be affected.
Many Palestinians view prisoners and those killed while carrying out attacks as heroes in their conflict with Israel. Palestinian leaders often venerate them as martyrs.
Under a 1994 agreement, Israel collects around $190 million each month in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports.
The money it then transfers to the PA is the authority's most important source of revenue.
The Palestinians want EU countries to pressure the Israeli government to rescind its decision, said Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy of Abbas's Fatah party.
Palestinian leaders will take steps to "boycott Israeli goods", he said, adding they had already prepared "a list of Israeli products that have local (Palestinian) equivalents".