Iraq in mourning after football game turns into bloodbath

iraq blasts

ISKANDARIYAH: Iraq on Saturday buried the victims, among them many young boys, of a suicide attack that ripped through a trophy ceremony after a football tournament and killed 32 people.

The bomber, who himself looks like a teenager on a photo distributed by the militant Islamic State group that claimed the attack, cut through a crowd gathered after the game and blew himself up.

Babil province announced three days of mourning following the attack, which sparked condemnation from visiting UN chief Ban Ki-moon and outrage across the global footballing community.

“There are 32 dead and also 84 wounded, 12 of whom are in a critical condition,” an official in Babil province health directorate said. “Seventeen of those killed are boys aged between 10 and 16,” the official said.

The attack took place in the Babil province village of Al-Asriya, which lies near Iskandariyah, a town about 40 kilometres south of the capital.

The bomber detonated his suicide vest late afternoon on Friday as officials were handing trophies to the players after the tournament. A video posted on social media shows one official speaking in front of a table covered with trophies and calling out the name of a player before a huge blast.

The footage cuts off with a big flash of yellow light.“The suicide bomber cut through the crowd to approach the centre of the gathering and blew himself up as the mayor was presenting awards to the players,” Ali Nashmi, an 18-year-old witness, said.

The mayor, Ahmed Shaker, was among the dead, as was one of his bodyguards and at least five members of the security forces. Pictures posted on social media of the blast site showed mangled goal posts smeared with blood.

The US State Department extended its condolences to the bereaved in a statement, as did the UN secretary general who was visiting Iraq for talks.

“I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest condolences to the people and government of Iraq, and particularly those members of the families affected by terrorist attacks yesterday,” the UN chief told reporters.


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