Dozens killed in Tikrit attacks bearing ′Islamic State′ hallmarks | News | DW | 05.04.2017
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Dozens killed in Tikrit attacks bearing 'Islamic State' hallmarks

At least 31 people have died in a string of attacks in northern Iraq, which a local official said were carried out by the "Islamic State." There are signs of IS returning to insurgency tactics as it loses territory.

The northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, located about 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad, was targeted in a series of five suicide attacks overnight into Wednesday.

A Salahuddin provincial council member, Ahmed al-Karim, said the bombers targeted a police patrol on foot and broke into a police officer's house in Tikrit's al-Zihoor neighborhood. He said the self-styled "Islamic State" was behind the attacks.

Security forces killed three of the bombers in the ensuing gunfight while two others detonated their explosives. Ten policemen were among the 31 dead. Dozens of others were injured.

Distraction from Mosul

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings, but 'Islamic' State (IS) militants have carried out scores of similar attacks in recent months.

The bombings have been widely seen as an attempt by the Islamists to distract attention from the ongoing US-led international campaign to drive the Sunni extremist group from Mosul.

While Iraqi forces drove out IS militants from Tikrit in April 2015, Mosul is regarded as IS' last key stronghold in Iraq.

Return to insurgent roots

IS seized Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, in mid-2014. However, the eastern part of the city, which is separated by the Tigris river from the west, was liberated from the Islamist militants in January.

As the Islamist militants continue to lose more territory in both Iraq and neighboring Syria, Iraqi and US-led coalition officials have repeatedly warned that after Mosul, IS will likely return to its insurgent roots.

Tikrit is a symbolically and strategically important Iraqi city. Saddam Hussein's hometown, it lies on the main road north out of Baghdad towards Mosul, roughly halfway between the two cities. 

ksb/msh (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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