Conflicting accounts emerge on Mosul blast
MOSUL: Conflicting accounts emerged yesterday about an explosion in Iraq’s Mosul a week ago after a US-led coalition strike against Islamic State (IS) that local officials say collapsed buildings, killing and burying many people.
Iraq’s military said 61 bodies had been recovered from a destroyed building that IS had booby-trapped in west Mosul, but that there was no sign the building had been hit by a coalition air strike.
The statement differed from reports by witnesses and local officials that said many more bodies were pulled from the building after a coalition strike targeted IS militants and equipment in the Jadida district.
A Nineveh province health official said yesterday that 160 bodies had been officially buried after they were recovered from the site where witnesses said buildings had been flattened by the March 17 blast.
Witnesses yesterday de- scribed horrific scenes from the blast, with body parts strewn over rubble, residents trying desperately to pull out survivors and other people buried out of reach.
“We felt the earth shaking as if it was an earthquake. It was an air strike that targeted my street,” said one Jadida resident.
The US-led coalition backing Iraqi forces on Saturday said it carried out a strike on IS militants and equipment in the area of the reported deaths, and was investigating.
The Iraqi military command said witnesses had told troops that the building was booby-trapped and militants had forced residents inside basements to use them as shields.
A coalition air strike had hit the area at the time though there was no sign it struck that building, it said. A local lawmaker and two witnesses say a coalition air strike may have targeted a large truck bomb, triggering a blast.
Ghazwan al-Dawoodi, head of the Nineveh governorate human rights council, said 173 people were killed after militants forced them into a bunker, and then opened fire on gunships to prompt an air strike.
Iraqi forces have retaken the east of Mosul and half of the west, across the Tigris River that divides Iraq’s second city. – Reuters