Four killed in IS suicide attack on Iraq party headquarters


A suicide attack targeting a political party headquarters in western Iraq has killed four people and injured seven others, including a candidate in polls set for May, officials said on Sunday.

The Islamic State (IS) group issued a statement claiming the attack, which took place late Saturday in the tribal desert province of Al-Anbar, primarily home to Sunni Muslims.

A local security official told journalists on condition of anonymity that "two suicide bombers disguised as soldiers entered the Al-Hal Party headquarters", a prominent party in the region. One of the attackers "detonated his explosive belt while political leaders held a meeting" at the campaign headquarters in the city of Hit, about 200 kilometres west of Baghdad, General Qassam al-Mohammadi, head of army operations in the area, told journalists.

"Three members of the security forces were killed and seven people, including candidate Zineb Abdel Hamid al-Hiti, were wounded," he said.

A municipal employee on Sunday also succumbed to injuries sustained in the attack, the anonymous official said. He said the second attacker detonated his belt shortly after the first, but did not cause any casualties.

Medical sources confirmed the death toll of four and said candidate Hiti had been hospitalised with light injuries.

Sunnis are a minority in Iraq, where more than two-thirds of the population is Shia Muslim. For three years, the Sunni jihadist group IS ruled the province, which stretches from the western periphery of the capital to the border with war-torn Syria.

In December, Baghdad declared "victory" against IS after retaking the group's last urban stronghold in Al-Anbar. But according to experts, jihadists are still hiding along the porous border with Syria and in parts of the Iraqi desert.

Elections held in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime have all been marred by deadly violence. But in the run-up to the May 12 polls, the country has enjoyed a respite from violence.    (AFP)

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