Iraq attack death toll rises to 84
The death toll has mounted to more than 80 killed in a Daesh-claimed attack in southern Iraq targeting a restaurant frequented by Shia Muslim pilgrims, Iraqi officials said Friday.
Eighty-four people were killed and 93 people were injured in the attack in Nasiriyah, in Iraq’s southern Dhiqar province Thursday evening, according to Provincial Gov. Yahya al-nassiri. Among them, eight Iranians were killed and 16 wounded, AP reported.
Nassiri added that the province’s director of intelligence was removed and the Interior Ministry called for him to be investigated.
The attack began as a shooting at a checkpoint and restaurant along the main road that connects the province to Baghdad, followed by two suicide bombers, one driving an explosivesladen car.
It left a trail of destruction, with charred bodies scattered on the ground near the burnt-out wrecks of cars, buses and trucks.
The attack was quickly claimed by the Daesh terror group, which appears to be switching to terrorist attacks after suffering a string of setbacks on the battlefield.
Iraq’s top Shia religious authority Grand Ayatollah Ali al-sistani condemned the attack Friday calling on Iraq’s central government and local leaders “to undertake responsibly and professionally the protection of citizens from terrorists.”
UN envoy Jan Kubis condemned the “cowardly twin attacks... which resulted in numerous civilian casualties, including many pilgrims.” The head of Yemen’s Houthis threatened Thursday to fire missiles at the United Arab Emirates and to attack Saudi tankers in the Red Sea.
The UAE, a key member of a Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting in Yemen’s conflict, “is now within range of our missiles,” Abdel Malek al-houthi said in a televised speech, AFP reported.
“The companies which have been set up, or which have investments in the UAE, should no longer consider it a safe country.”
Abdel Malek said the Houthis had successfully fired a missile at Abu Dhabi earlier this month, meaning the United Arab Emirates was no longer safe from attack.
He said his forces had advanced their missile technology to reach targets north of the Saudi capital Riyadh and south of Mecca, in the west of the oil-rich kingdom.
The naval forces were capable of striking Saudi oil installations and tankers in the Red Sea, he said, warning against any attempt to capture the port of Hodeida which is under their control.
“Today, the port of Hodeida is being threatened and we cannot turn a blind eye to that,” Abdel Malek said.
“If the Saudi regime, with a green light from the US, attacks Hodeida, then we have to take steps that we haven’t taken before.”
“We could target Saudi oil tankers and we could do anything,” he said.
The Saudi coalition has since 2015 waged a blistering air campaign against Yemen, while enforcing an air and sea blockade. The war has killed over 12,000 civilians, displaced three million people, and pushed the country, the most impoverished in the Arab world, to the brink of famine. Moreover, an outbreak of cholera has killed 2,000 people.