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83 people killed, 93 wounded in twin deadly attacks in southern Iraq
Up to 83 people were killed and 93 wounded on Thursday in coordinated attacks of a car bomb and a gunfire near the city of Nasriyah in Iraq's southern province of Dhi Qar, a provincial medical source said.
"The final casualties from the car bombing and gunfire attacks in Fadak area Dhi Qar province rose to 83 killed and 93 wounded, and many of them are in critical conditions," Jasim al-Khaledi, head of the provincial health department told Xinhua by telephone.
Many Iranian people were among the killed and wounded, Khaledi said.
Earlier Khaledi put the toll at 50 killed and 87 wounded by the two attacks.
The twin attacks occurred in the afternoon when gunmen attacked a restaurant at Fadak area in west of the city of Nasriyah, some 375 km south of Baghdad, while a car bomb detonated at a security checkpoint near the attacked restaurant, according to a provincial security source.
The Iraqi security forces clashes with the attackers at the scene and shot dead four of them, said the Rafidain Operations Command, which is responsible for the security in Dhi Qar province.
Later in the day, the Islamic State (IS) group claimed the responsibility for the twin attacks in Fadak area near Nasriyah, saying that its suicide bombers targeted a restaurant and a security checkpoint, the group said in an online statement, which its authenticity could not be immediately verified.
Hours after the attacks, the Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji sacked the intelligence chief of Dhi Qar province and referred him to interrogation after the deadly attacks that hit the province, an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua.
In a statement issued by his office, the parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri condemned the terrorist attacks in the province, calling on the security forces and their leaders to develop security plans to ensure the protection of life and property in the province of Dhi Qar and all other provinces of Iraq.
The parliamentary Sadr bloc, loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, called for intensified security measures across Iraq and to detect sleeper terrorist cells that try to cover up the defeats of IS group, the bloc said in a statement.
Meanhwile, the Iraqi National Alliance (a Sunni bloc) in parliament condemned the bombings saying "these attacks indicate that the blind terror began to utter its last breath as a result of its confusion and despair due the loss of their redoubts in Iraq," said Salah al-Jubouri, head of the bloc.
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in a statement that it "strongly condemns the cowardly twin attacks carried out by the terrorist Daesh (IS) on a restaurant and a security checkpoint in Nasiriya in southern Iraq, which resulted in numerous civilian casualties."
"The United Nations in Iraq is deeply saddened by these atrocious attacks, but this will not weaken the country's resolve in fighting terrorism, he said, calling on Iraqis to set aside their differences and unite in working together to eliminate the terrorist Daesh, which remains a threat despite suffering defeats on the battlefield," the statement said.
The attacks came after the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on August 31 declared full liberation of the city of Tal Afar and surrounding areas from the extremist IS militants.
"I declare to you that Tal Afar has joined the liberated Mosul and returned to the homeland," Abadi said in a statement issued by his office.
The Iraqi forces still have to wage more offensives to drive out IS militants from their redoubts in Hawijah in southwestern Kirkuk, the adjacent sprawling rugged areas in eastern Salahudin province, in addition to the remaining IS strongholds in the border areas with Syria, including the cities of Aana, Rawa, and al-Qaim in the western province of Anbar province.
Many blame the current chronic instability, cycle of violence, and the emergence of extremist groups, such as the IS, on the United States that invaded and occupied Iraq in March 2003, under the pretext of seeking to destroy weapons of mass destruction in the country.
The war led to the ouster and eventual execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but no such weapons have been found.
[Source: Xinhua, Baghdad, 14Sep17]
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