At least 30 killed in ISIL assault on Iraq shrine
KONFRONTASI-At least 30 people have been killed in an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suicide bomb, gun and mortar attack on a Shia shrine north of Iraq's capital Baghdad, officials said.
The incident comes just days after the worst bombing in the country since the US-led invasion of 2003, which was also claimed by ISIL. That attack, in a bustling Baghdad street packed with shoppers, killed 292 people, according to the health ministry.
The overnight assault on the Sayyid Mohammed shrine in Balad also wounded 50 people, the army's Joint Operations Command spokesman said in a statement on Friday.
The shrine was first targeted with mortar rounds before suicide bombers arrived and opened fire. Two of the bombers blew themselves up in a market next to the shrine, while a third was killed and his explosives belt defused, the statement said, giving no further details on how he was killed.
Iraq had been on high alert after Sunday's devastating attack in Baghdad ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday to mark the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Health Minister Adila Hamoud said late on Thursday that the bodies of 115 people killed in the bombing had now been handed over to families, while the identities of 177 others had yet to be determined.
Trapped by flames
The blast also wounded 200 people, said the minister, who on Tuesday told the AFP news agency that the process of identifying the dead - which she put at 150 at the time - was expected to take 15 to 45 days.
The attack has overshadowed what would normally be a joyful holiday for Iraqi Muslims, instead turning it into a time of mourning and sadness. Families have said they are furious over delays in identifying their relatives.
Police Major General Talib Khalil Rahi said the suicide bomber on Sunday detonated a minibus loaded with plastic explosives and ammonium nitrate.
The initial blast killed a limited number of people, but flames spread and trapped people inside shopping centres that lacked emergency exits, Rahi told a news conference in Baghdad.
Interior Minister Mohammed Ghabban resigned after the attack, and authorities also announced the execution of five convicts and the arrest of 40 fighters in an apparent bid to limit fallout.[mr/aje]