Middle East

Six IS suicide bombers in deadly attack south of Baghdad

Map of Iraq showing Baghdad, Ain Tamr and Falluja

Eight civilians have been killed and five others wounded in a suicide bomb attack in a town south-west of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, officials say.

Six suicide bombers entered Ain Tamr from the western province of Anbar early on Monday, but they were confronted by security forces.

The jihadist group Islamic State (IS) said it was behind the attack.

In a separate incident, two bomb attacks in the Iraqi city of Falluja have killed at least eight people.

The bombers targeted government soldiers at two checkpoints in the centre of the city.

The attacks in Falluja are the first since government forces recaptured the city from IS militants in June.

On Sunday, IS carried out a series of bombings in and around Baghdad that killed at least 23 people and wounded 70 others.

In the bombing in Ain Tamr on Monday, five of the bombers were shot dead, but the sixth broke into a house where he blew himself up, killing eight civilians.

Officials said the bombers had been attempting to infiltrate the Shia Muslim holy city of Karbala, about 50km (30 miles) to the east.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hundreds of thousands of Shia pilgrims are walking towards Karbala to commemorate Arbaeen

Millions of Shia pilgrims are travelling to Karbala to commemorate Arbaeen, the end of the 40-day mourning period for the third Shia Imam, Hussein. This year, it will take place on Sunday.

Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, was killed in battle at Karbala in the 7th Century on a day that is known as Ashura. His martyrdom is considered a defining event in the Sunni-Shia schism.

The Sunni extremists of IS consider Shia to be apostates worthy of punishment by death for their veneration of the Prophet's family and other beliefs and practices.

IS has launched a series of attacks in Iraq since government forces launched a major offensive to recapture the northern city of Mosul, the jihadists' last major urban stronghold in the country.

On Monday, the Iraqi military said security forces were now 3km (1.9 miles) from the village of Albu Saif, which lies just to the south of Mosul's international airport, a key objective.