KIRKUK/BAGHDAD: A suicide bomber has killed two Iraqi policemen near a former bastion of Daesh, days after Deash claimed a similar attack near Syria’s border, a security official said Friday.
On Thursday morning a “suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest drove a booby-trapped car into a federal police checkpoint” near Hawija, north of Baghdad, one official said.
“Two policemen were killed and a third one wounded,” in the attack, the official added.
Hawija is one of the last Daesh holdouts retaken by government troops a year ago and has long been a bastion of radical groups.
On Wednesday an Daesh suicide bomber blew a vehicle at a checkpoint on the outskirts of the Iraq border town of Al-Qaim, near the Syrian frontier, another of the last towns in Iraq to be recaptured from Daesh.
Also on Thursday, three members of Iraq’s Hashed Al-Shaabi paramilitary force, which played a key role in fighting Daesh, were wounded in a blast near Hawija, another security official said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Thursday’s attacks but Daesh said it was behind Wednesday’s suicide bombing.
In a purported new audio message released last week, Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi called on his followers to “not give up against their enemy.”
According to Hisham Al-Hashemi, an expert on radical extremist groups, about 2,000 militants Daesh are still active in Iraq, which declared victory over the extremists in December last year.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Iraqi protesters stoned and tried to break into the provincial government headquarters in the southern oil hub of Basra on Friday to press demands for better public services and an end to pervasive corruption.
Some protesters also set fire to tires outside the building and there were minor clashes with riot police who fired tear gas to try to quell the protest. No serious injuries were reported.
Protests have swept cities in the long neglected south over widespread electricity outages during the blistering hot Iraqi summer, a lack of jobs and proper government services, and entrenched graft.
Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi suspended the electricity minister last month and said earlier this week that his government had begun punishing those responsible for poor services in Basra, Iraq’s second biggest city.
Public anger is rising at a time when politicians are struggling to form a new government after an inconclusive parliamentary election in May. Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani has expressed support for the protests.
Friday’s protests were particularly concerned with the high level of salt in Basra’s drinking water that residents say makes it undrinkable.
The city’s infrastructure is crumbling from years of neglect and under-investment, generating widespread bitterness as locals contrast their impoverishment with the oil wealth the province provides for federal government coffers.