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Baghdad security chief fired after shrine attack leaves 37 dead

Published 08/07/2016

Flowers left at the scene of a truck bomb attack in Baghdad - there was another assault by suicide bombers on a Shiite shrine north of the capital (AP)
Flowers left at the scene of a truck bomb attack in Baghdad - there was another assault by suicide bombers on a Shiite shrine north of the capital (AP)

An attack on a Shiite shrine in Iraq has killed 37 people and wounded dozens more, as the prime minister reacted to mounting public anger over government security failings by firing Baghdad's security chief.

The attack, claimed by Islamic State, began with a volley of mortar fire on the Sayyid Mohammed shrine and a nearby market in Balad, 50 miles north of the Iraqi capital.

A suicide bomber first targeted police guarding the shrine's entrance, allowing a second bomber to push into the courtyard with nine gunmen, who fired at security forces and civilians gathered inside to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

A third bomber was killed before he detonated his explosives, police said. Police and hospital officials confirmed the death toll and said 62 people were wounded.

IS claimed the attack in a statement posted online.

Haider al-Abadi fired the commander of Baghdad operations, his office said, as the embattled prime minister faced growing protests at the site of a huge bombing where at least 186 people were killed in the capital earlier this week.

The statement said other security and intelligence officials were also sacked, but did not specify who.

Last weekend's car bombing was one of the deadliest since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. Many Iraqis blame their political leadership for security lapses that allow major bombings in territory far from the frontline against IS.

Small-scale bombings occur on a near-daily basis in Baghdad, and in May a string of larger attacks, many of them claimed by IS, killed more than 200 people in a week.

After the latest Baghdad attack, Mr al-Abadi announced new security measures, but it was unclear if any have yet been implemented.

The minister of interior submitted his resignation on Tuesday, but Mr al-Abadi has not accepted it.

AP

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