BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least 12 people were killed on Saturday when two suicide bombers attacked a crowded swimming pool in northern Iraq, a local official and police sources said. The attacks in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, about 175 km (110 miles) north of the capital Baghdad, left 45 others wounded. Most of the victims were Shi‘ites from the country’s ethnic Turkmen minority.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Islamic State militants have recently launched a string of bombings in Baghdad and other provinces, including a huge attack earlier this month in Diyala province that killed more than 100 people. Security forces and militia groups are currently focused on the western province of Anbar, where they have been gearing up for an offensive to retake the mainly Sunni governorate, Iraq’s largest, from the radical Sunni group. The mayor of Tuz Khurmatu, Ali al-Huasaini, and two police sources said a suicide attacker detonated his explosives vest at a swimming pool where dozens of men and children were swimming in scorching summer heat. Another bomber then blew up explosives packed onto a motorcycle at the swimming pool’s entrance as police and rescue teams were evacuating casualties, they said. “Innocent people were only trying to avoid the high summer temperatures, but they couldn’t avoid death at hands of the worst criminals on earth,” said Hussaini. Police and hospital sources said the death toll could rise, because many of the wounded were in critical condition.
Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed, Editing by Stephen Kalin and Catherine Evans