At least eight people were killed and dozens wounded in three explosions in Iraq’s southern city of Basra, officials said.
The explosions occurred outside three cafes on Wednesday on a street in central Basra where people gather in the evening to smoke traditional water pipes and play dominoes and backgammon.
Ali al-Maliki, head of the Basra provincial council’s security committee, said eight people were killed and 22 others wounded. Brigadier Faisal al-Abadi, head of Basra police, put the toll at two killed and 30 wounded.
“I was near my son’s cafe when I heard an explosion and quickly came to the area. I saw people lying on the ground, blood spots on the floor. People were shocked and screaming. My son is amongst the wounded,” said Abu Abdullah, whose son owns one of the cafes targeted in the attack.
A witness at the scene said there was little structural damage as a result of the blasts. “There are many critical cases amongst the wounded. We expect the death toll will rise,” a hospital source in Basra said.
Bombings and attacks remain a daily occurrence in Iraq nearly nine years after the US-led invasion that ousted Saddam
Hussein and the number of people killed in October was the highest this year.
United States President Barack Obama said on October 21 that all US forces would withdraw from Iraq by the year-end in accordance with a 2008 security pact. Military leaders have expressed concerns that fighters might ramp up attacks as the 39,000 US troops left in Iraq pack up to leave.