ISIS Attacks Kill 32 in Southern Iraq; Bombing in Turkey Kills Two

Image: An Iraqi policeman walks past the site of a car bomb attack in Samawa
An Iraqi policeman walks past the site of a car bomb attack in Samawa, south of Baghdad, May 1.ALAA AL-MARJANI / Reuters

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By Reuters

BAGHDAD — Two suicide car bombs claimed by ISIS killed at least 32 people and wounded 75 others in the center of the southern Iraqi city of Samawa on Sunday, police and medics said.

The first blast was near a local government building and the second one about 65 yards away at a bus station, police sources said. The death toll was expected to keep rising.

Unverified online photographs showed a large plume of smoke rising above the buildings as well as burnt out cars and bodies on the ground at the site of one of the blasts, including several children. Police and firefighters carried victims on stretchers and in their arms.

ISIS said it had attacked a gathering of special forces in Samawa, 140 miles south of the capital, with one car bomb and then blew up the second when security forces responded to the site.

Related: ISIS Claims Deadly Truck Bombing in Iraq Marketplace: Report

ISIS holds positions mostly in Sunni areas of the country's north and west, far from the mainly Shi'ite southern provinces where Samawa is located. Such attacks are relatively rare.

The rise of the ultra-hardline Sunni insurgents has exacerbated Iraq's sectarian conflict, mostly between Shi'ites and Sunnis, which emerged after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

An Iraqi policeman walks past the site of a car bomb attack in Samawa, south of Baghdad, May 1.ALAA AL-MARJANI / Reuters

The quota-based governing system put in place by the United States at the time is being challenged by hundreds of protesters who camped out overnight in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone after storming the parliament building.

Meanwhile, two police officers were killed and 23 people wounded in a suicide car bomb attack on police headquarters in the south-eastern Turkish city of Gaziantep, the governor and police sources said, in one of two attacks on security forces on Sunday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but security sources said police raided the home of a suspected ISIS militant believed to have carried out the attack and detained his father for DNA tests and questioning.

Related: How to Beat ISIS: Blow Up the Money

Nineteen police officers and four civilians were wounded in the attack, a statement from Gaziantep governor Ali Yerlikaya's office said. One police officer died at the scene and a second in hospital, a security source said.

Turkey has suffered attacks recently both from Kurdish militants and ISIS fighters, raising uncertainty at home and among NATO allies about spillover of conflict from neighboring Syria.

Several hundred miles eastwards along the same border, in the town of Nusaybin, three Turkish soldiers were killed and 14 others wounded in an armed attack by Kurdish militants, an army statement said.

Turkey is facing security threats on several fronts. As part of a U.S.-led coalition, it is fighting ISIS in neighboring Syria and Iraq and battling Kurdish PKK militants in its southeast, where a 2-1/2-year ceasefire collapsed last July, triggering the worst violence since the 1990s.

A wave of suicide bombings this year, including two in its largest city Istanbul, have been blamed on ISIS, and two in the capital Ankara were claimed by a Kurdish militant group. The Sunni hardline group, which usually claims responsibility for its attacks has never done so in Turkey.

Last week a female suicide bomber blew herself up next to a mosque on a busy street in Turkey's fourth largest city of Bursa, wounding eight people.

Turkey has also faced attacks from far-left groups, mostly on police and security forces.