Iraq says ISIL bomber blocked in Monsul
Iraq’s armed forces say they have blocked a major wave of attacks by suicide bombers from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) outside the Old City of Mosul.
Sunday’s attacks targeted Hay al-Tanak, a poor neighbourhood west of the Old City, the last stronghold of the fighters in Mosul.
It is the first wave of attacks reported outside the Old City since the battle to capture the historic district from ISIL started a week ago.
It came just days after suicide bombers killed at least three people in a series of attacks on a shopping district in east Mosul.
A policeman was killed in the first attack which struck the Muthanna neighbourhood late on Friday as residents shopped in advance of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The area had been retaken from the ISIL group a few months ago.
A second bomber managed to enter a shopping arcade and blew himself up among civilians, killing at least two and wounding nine, a senior policeman said. A third suicide bomber was killed by police before he could detonate his vest.
It was among the bloodiest attacks since Iraqi forces retook the eastern side of Mosul in January as part of a massive offensive to wrest back the country’s second city from ISIL.
There had been growing calls in east Mosul before Friday night’s attack for the families of ISIL members to be, among other measures, banished for 10 years.
On Thursday, Iraq’s prime minister said Mosul’s “liberation” from ISIL would be announced in a few days.
“It’s a matter of a few days and we will announce the total liberation of Mosul,” Haider al-Abadi was quoted as saying by Baghdad-based Sumaria TV.
The announcement came as Iraqi forces were continuing the battle against ISIL fighters in the city’s old town – a densely populated quarter with narrow, winding alleys.
Up to 150,000 civilians are believed to be trapped in there, where conditions have been described by the UN as desperate.