BAGHDAD: A bomb killed four people in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Tuesday, the first such attack in years in a part of the country that has enjoyed relative stability, and a senior official said Daesh militants were suspected of carrying it out.
The blast, near a major hospital in the city, was caused by a motorbike rigged with explosives, the military said in a statement, citing preliminary information.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
“The blast carries fingerprints of Daesh,” Basra Governor Asaad al-Edani told reporters.
Bomb attacks in the Basra area are rare-the last major attack occurred in 2017 and was claimed by the Islamic State. The authorities have always strictly controlled the production and export areas of most of the OPEC member countries.
A Reuters witness said that police were collecting body parts from a minibus that was badly damaged by the explosion. The streets were full of broken glass and blood. The governor announced three days of condolences.
“Today and after this terrorist act, the people of Basra must definitely be cautious and careful. Basra became unsafe today,” said Mohammed Ibrahim, a car mechanic whose workshop was near the blast site.
Police and hospital sources earlier told Reuters that 20 people had been wounded, in addition to the four fatalities.
Helped by a US-led coalition and Iran-backed forces, Iraq declared victory over Daesh in December 2017, after driving it from swathes of territory where it had declared a self-styled caliphate.
But the militant group continues to carry out sporadic attacks, particularly in the north, where it briefly seized a village on Sunday before being driven out.