Death toll in Iraq football pitch attack rises to 41

(From RTE News)

The self-styled Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a football match near the Iraqi capital, killing 41 people.

17 boys were killed in the attack claimed by IS

17 boys were killed in the attack claimed by IS

The bomber detonated his suicide vest as local officials were handing trophies to the players after a local tournament in the village of Al-Asriya, south of Baghdad.

“Seventeen of those killed are boys aged between 10 and 16,” an official added.

A video posted on social media shows a local official speaking in front of a table covered with trophies and calling out the name of a player before a huge blast.

The footage cuts off with a big flash of yellow light.

“The suicide bomber cut through the crowd to approach the centre of the gathering and blew himself up as the mayor was presenting awards to the players,” said Ali Nashmi, an 18-year-old witness.

Pictures posted on social media of the blast site showed mangled goal posts smeared with blood.

The United States state department extended its condolences to the bereaved in a statement, as did the United Nations special envoy to Iraq.

IS has been losing territory steadily in Iraq for almost a year.

In the most recent operations, Iraqi forces have been gaining ground in the western province of Anbar and have just begun their reconquest of the province of Nineveh.

Observers have warned that, as their self-proclaimed “caliphate” shrinks towards extinction, IS fighters are likely to revert to their old guerrilla tactics and ramp-up suicide attacks on civilian targets.

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