The United States has condemned a “cowardly” suicide attack that targeted a crowd at a soccer game near Baghdad, killing at least 26 people and wounding 71.
The blast rocked Iskandariya, a mixed Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim town 25 miles south of the capital, at about 7:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m. ET) Friday at the end of an amateur game, regional security chief Falah al-Khafaji told Reuters.
ISIS militants, who control swathes of territory in Iraq's north and west, were behind the attack, according to the Amaq news agency which is affiliated with the group.
“We extend our condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this cowardly attack,” the State Department said late Friday in a statement. “The United States remains committed in its support to the Iraqi people and the unity of Iraq.”
At least 60 people were killed earlier this month in an attack claimed by Islamic State 50 miles further south, in Hilla, when an explosives-laden fuel tanker slammed into an Iraqi security checkpoint.
An apparent escalation of large bombings targeting areas outside Islamic State's primary control suggests that Iraqi government forces may be stretched thin after recent gains against the group in the western and northern provinces.