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.


Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

A firefighting aircraft flies over a forest near Kibbutz Harel, which was damaged by wildfires during a record heatwave, in Israel May 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 May 2019
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Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Egypt and four European countries sent aircraft to help Israel battle wildfires that have forced the evacuation of some small towns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday, as a record heatwave looked set to worsen conditions.
At an emergency briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had appealed for international help to combat the fires, and that firefighting planes were coming in from Greece, Croatia, Italy and Cyprus.
Egypt, on the orders of President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, had also sent two helicopters to assist Israel, Netanyahu told reporters.
The Palestinian Authority and Russia had also offered help, Netanyahu said.
Israel braced for wildfires on Friday amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Israel “really appreciates” the help, Netanyahu said, singling out El-Sisi for sending aid.
“I am deeply thankful for the readiness of neighbors to help us in a time of crisis, just as we help them,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s Fire and Rescue Service said blazes in a key corridor between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were mostly under control but difficult weather remained a conflagration risk.
“As of this moment, this (containment) is being done in the best possible way, but the challenge is yet ahead of us given the weather conditions, the winds and the extreme heat,” Netanyahu said.
Some 3,500 residents of small towns in the path of the fires were evacuated on Thursday, officials said. Dozens of homes have burned down.

Evacuations
Thousands of people were evacuated from towns and dozens of homes were burned on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions. Over 500 acres of woodland have burned, said Nitai Zecharya, an Israeli official from the Jewish National Fund, known for planting forests in the country.
Zecharya said that while firefighters had brought most of the blaze under control, officials remained “very stressed” about strong winds fanning flames and “spreading fires to other fronts.”
The cause of the fires remains unclear, but they erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.