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Baghdad Killings: Suicide Truck bombing Kills at Least 124, ISIS claims responsibility

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blast in the Karrada district, saying Shi'ites were targeted and considers Shi'ites heretics

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People gather at the site of a suicide car bomb in the Karrada shopping area, in Baghdad, Iraq, July 3, 2016. Image source: Reuters
  • A suicide truck bombing occurred at a busy shopping area, killing at least 119 people and wounding 170 others
  • Pope Francis delivered a prayer for the victims in Iraq and for a separate bombing Friday in Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the site of the bombing hours after the attack

Iraqi Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi met with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones in Baghdad after two separate early morning bombings in Baghdad killed at least 124 people and wounded at least 186 others.  The officials discussed how the two countries can better collaborate in the fight against Islamic State (IS).

A suicide truck bombing Sunday, July 3, occurred shortly after midnight at a busy shopping area, killing at least 119 people and wounding 170 others.  It was the most deadly attack in the Iraqi capital this year.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blast in the Karrada district, saying Shi’ites were targeted.  The jihadist group considers Shi’ites heretics.

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In the second attack, an explosive device detonated in Baghdad’s northern Shaab area, killing at least five people and wounding 16.  No one has claimed responsibility for this attack.

Image source :www.natsentinel.com
An ISIS supporter.Image source :www.natsentinel.com

The White House condemned the attacks Sunday and said in a statement the violence has reinforced the America’s commitment to defeating IS. “We remain united with the Iraqi people and government in our combined efforts to destroy ISIL,” the statement said, using another acronym for the group.

Pope Francis delivered a prayer for the victims in Iraq and for a separate bombing Friday in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  The pope told tens of thousands of worshipers in St. Peter’s square he feels “closeness to the families of the victims” and asked those gathered to “pray together” for them.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the site of the bombing hours after the attack.

A man looks for victims at the site of a car bomb attack at a commercial area in Karada neighbourhood in Baghdad, Iraq, July 3, 2016. Image source: AP
A man looks for victims at the site of a car bomb attack at a commercial area in Karada neighbourhood in Baghdad, Iraq, July 3, 2016. Image source: AP

The attack came little more than a week after Iraqi forces ousted Islamic State militants from the city of Fallujah, just 50 kilometres west of the capital.

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A second deadly blast occurred in eastern Baghdad, killing at least one person and wounding several others.  There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the second blast.

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This is the third major act of terrorism claimed by IS in a week, following the suicide attack Tuesday at Ataturk International Airport that killed more than 40 people, and the siege of a restaurant in Dhaka in which more than 20 people died.

Bangladeshi officials insist, however, the Dhaka attackers had no connection with Islamic State.  The Bangladesh government has long maintained IS has no presence in the country. (VOA)

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Nigeria, Cameroon Vow to Tackle Terrorism

The Cameroon-Nigeria Transborder Security Committee has as prime objective strengthening border security for both countries. It was created in 2012 in Nigeria

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Cameroon and Nigeria agreed on Friday to take further measures to boost multifaceted cooperation in the fight against terrorism along their shared border. Wikimedia Commons

Nigeria has promised to assist Cameroon in combating the separatist crisis rocking the central African country’s English speaking region. The pledge, made during a security meeting, has been described by Cameroon authorities as reassuring, following accusations that separatist fighters in Cameroon were being trained in Nigeria, and that weapons they use are brought in through the neighboring country.

Brigadier General Emmanuel Adamu Ndagi, leader of the Nigerian delegation to the Cameroon-Nigeria transborder security meeting that ended in Yaounde Saturday, says his country has been seriously affected by the separatist crisis in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

The closure of parts of the border has led to a sharp decline in food imports, like sorghum, rice and onions, to Nigeria on one hand, while basic commodities exported from Nigeria, like fuel, are hard to get into Cameroon. Ndagi says because of the security, economic and humanitarian threats caused by the separatist war, Nigeria will support Cameroon in bringing peace to its troubled regions.

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Delegates respect the Cameroon and Nigerian anthem during the Yaounde security meeting in Camerron, July 6, 2019. ( Moki Kindzeka/VOA)

“The current political upheavals in that region will not be allowed to affect our cordial relations,” said Ndagi. “We will continue to support your efforts to bring lasting peace to the region. This will facilitate the return of Cameroonian refugees that have crossed the border into Nigerian territory. We must reduce vulnerabilities along our borders that are being exploited to perpetrate transnational organized crime notably terrorism, proliferation of small arms and light weapons as well as piracy.”

When Cameroon declared war on the armed separatists in November 2017, it said gunmen were attacking border localities in Cameroon’s southwest and escaping to Nigeria, where some of them were trained. Nigeria denied the assailants were crossing over from its territory into Cameroon.

In January 2018, 47 separatists, including Ayuk Tabe Julius, head of a group from Cameroon’s Angolphone regions pushing for a breakaway from the French-dominant country, were arrested in Abuja, Nigeria, extradited and jailed in Cameroon.

Paul Atanga Nji, territorial administration minister and Cameroon’s leader of the delegation to the security meeting, says in spite of the collaboration, the separatists continue to use porous borders to import weapons through Nigeria, making the security situation very uncertain.

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Weapons used by separatist fighters suspected to have been made in Nigeria and brought into Cameroon, June 6, 2019. ( Moki Kindzeka/VOA)

“The security situation along our common borders has all of a sudden become a cause for concern,” Nji said. “These threats take the following forms. Secessionist tendencies, illegal exploitation of natural resources, conflicts between boarder communities, highway robbery, drug and human trafficking, illicit trafficking of fire arms, agro pastoral conflicts etc.”

The UNHCR says that by December 2018 there were more than 32,000 Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria’s Cross River state. Nigeria’s longest international border is with Cameroon. All along the 1,975 kilometer border there are violent crises. Nigeria’s northeast states of Borno and Adamawa continue to have Boko Haram terrorist attacks.

As the Yaounde security meeting was going on, Kildadi Taguieke Boukar, governor of Cameroon’s Adamaoua region that shares a boundary with Nigeria’s Taraba state, announced renewed conflicts with Nigerians escaping farmer-herder clashes to Cameroon.

“There is a conflict along some tribes in Nigeria’s Taraba state. About 100 people from Nigeria flee [have escaped] to our territory around Kontcha division [administrative unit and], there is agro-pastoral [farmer-herder] conflicts,” Boukar said.

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Paul Atanga Nji, head of Cameroon delegation (left) and Brigadier General Emmanuel Adamu Ndagi, leader of the Nigerian delegation (right) in Yaounde, Cameroon, July 6, 2019. ( Moki Kindzeka/VOA)

Nigeria has not confirmed the renewed violence, but confrontations erupted last year in Cameroon’s Adamaoua region between farmers and Nigerian cattle ranchers who had escaped tribal wars in Taraba state.

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The Cameroon-Nigeria Transborder Security Committee has as prime objective strengthening border security for both countries. It was created in 2012 in Nigeria. Cameroon and Nigeria agreed on Friday to take further measures to boost multifaceted cooperation in the fight against terrorism along their shared border.

They did not disclose details of how their cooperation will be carried out, but they said they would share information regularly to stop terrorist activities including Boko Haram attacks and separatists fighting for the independence of an English-speaking sate in Cameroon. They said they would make it difficult for criminals to leave Nigeria for Cameroon and vice versa. (VOA)