At least 12 people have been killed after two suicide bombers attacked a crowded swimming pool in northern Iraq, according to a local official and police sources.
The attacks in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, about 175km north of the capital Baghdad, left 45 others wounded.
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Most of the victims were Shia from the country’s ethnic Turkmen minority, according to the Reuters news agency said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group is suspected to be behind recent bombings in Baghdad and other provinces, including an attack earlier this month in Diyala province that killed more than 100 people.
Security forces and allied armed groups are currently focused on Anbar, where they have been gearing up for an offensive to retake the mainly Sunni province, Iraq’s largest, from ISIL.
Scorching summer heat
The mayor of Tuz Khurmatu, Ali al-Hussaini, and two police sources said a suicide attacker detonated his explosives vest at a swimming pool where dozens of men and children were swimming in scorching summer heat.
Another bomber then blew up explosives packed onto a motorcycle at the swimming pool’s entrance as police and rescue teams were evacuating casualties, they said.
“Innocent people were only trying to avoid the high summer temperatures, but they couldn’t avoid death at hands of the worst criminals on earth,” said Hussaini.
Police and hospital sources said the death toll could rise, because many of the wounded were in critical condition.
Meanwhile, the US and its allies targeted ISIL fighters with 22 air strikes in Iraq on Friday and nine in Syria, the Command Joint Task Force said on Saturday.
Seven of the attacks were near the Iraqi city of Fallujah and hit bridges, a bomb-making facility and other targets.
The strikes in Iraq were near the cities of Al Huwayjah, Beiji, Habbaniyah, Makmur, Mosul, Ramadi, Sinjar and Tal Afar and hit tactical units, weapons and other assets.
In Syria, fighting positions, tactical units and equipment were targeted in strikes near al-Hasakah, Raqqah, Deir Az and Kobane, the statement said.