– Iraq: IS suicide bombers kill 26 at Tikrit wedding party

March 9, 2017

Map showing Hajaj and Tikrit in Iraq

Two suicide bombers have blown themselves up, killing 26 people, as wedding guests gathered in a village near the Iraqi city of Tikrit.

So-called Islamic State said two of its fighters had carried out the attack in the village of Hajaj on Wednesday.

The first detonated an explosive vest among men who were dancing, then a second bomber targeted those who had gathered to help, officials said.

Most of the dead were children, a local government spokesman told AP.

IS said it had targeted a gathering of the Popular Mobilization Forces, a coalition of mostly Shia paramilitaries backed by Iran.

In a post on its channels on the messaging app Telegram, IS said the attackers had clashed with members of the group before detonating their explosives.

At least 25 people were wounded.

Mosul push

The wedding party on Wednesday evening was for a family who had been displaced from Iraq’s western Anbar province and is affiliated with a major anti-IS tribe there, AP reported.

The jihadists captured swathes of northern and central Iraq, including Tikrit, in the summer of 2014, but were forced out of the city by Iraqi forces in April 2015.

But they continue to launch attacks in and around the city, which was the hometown of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

It comes as Iraqi government forces are battling to retake the northern city of Mosul from the Sunni extremist group.

After gaining control of the city’s eastern side in January, troops are now pushing into the more densely-populated west.

This week they have taken a government complex and the Badoush prison, where IS are alleged to have killed 600 mainly Shia inmates.

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