Suicide bomb attacks hits soccer stadium in Iraq

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At least 25 were killed and dozens more injured when man wearing a suicide belt walked into an Iraqi soccer stadium on Friday and blew himself up, security officials said.

Spectators had gathered for a ceremony to mark a championship for a popular local soccer team when the bomb exploded, the head of the Babil province security committee, Baydhan al Hamdani, said.

The attacker struck at al-Shuhadaa stadium in the Babil province city of Iskandariya, roughly 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Baghdad.

Iskandariya is in a region that was once called “the triangle of death” and was badly affected by sectarian violence that followed the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

A local police captain said the suicide bomber blew himself up in the crowd as the trophy was being handed to the winners, AFP news agency reported.

The town’s mayor was among those killed, the agency added, quoting an unnamed medical source.

A video posted on YouTube and then taken down showed soccer players standing in front of a table holding trophies until an explosion occurred and the video ended.

ISIS claimed responsibility, according to a statement posted online by supporters.

The special representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Iraq, Jan Kubis, condemned the bombing by “Daesh,” another term for ISIS.

“The evildoers are aiming their wrath at the innocent and vulnerable civilians,” he said. “Today, Daesh committed yet another atrocity, targeting families who were enjoying their weekend attending a football game in their hometown. This abhorrent act deserves the strongest condemnation.”

Kubis urged Iraqis to unite to thwart the terrorists’ goals of inciting sectarian tensions in the country.

The U.S. State Department also spoke out.
“The United States condemns today’s suicide bombing claimed by Daesh … which killed and wounded dozens of Iraqis who had gathered to support a local football game,” said a statement from Elizabeth Trudeau, director of the department’s office of press relations.

The Sunni Islamist extremist group has boasted about terrorist attacks around the world, most recently this week’s carnage in Brussels that killed 31 people and wounded more than 300.

The bulk of ISIS’ brutal actions are in the Middle East. It spawned in the mid-2000s from al Qaeda in Iraq, and it has captured large swaths of territory in both Iraq and neighboring Syria in recent years.

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