“One can see blood everywhere on the floor in the hospital, people are screaming, it’s quite a chaotic situation,” Photo: Rudaw
KHANAQIN, Kurdistan Region—At least 20 people were killed and dozens of others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the midst of a rally in Khanaqin on Monday, said local officials.
Officials of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said that the suicide bomber targeted a crowd of PUK supporters who had gathered to celebrate the release of a video footage of Jalal Talabani casting his ballot in Berlin.
Police and health officials in Khanaqin gave different accounts, some saying that the number of casualties may be as high as 30.
Many of the wounded are in critical condition and they have been transported to hospitals in Kalar and Sulaimani.
Rudaw correspondent in Khanaqin described the scene inside a hospital as "doomsday", saying, “People are very confused, men, women, young and children come to look for their loved ones,”
“One can see blood everywhere on the floor in the hospital, people are screaming, it’s quite a chaotic situation,” he reported.
Until 2003 Khanaqin was under the control of the Iraqi regime, but in the past ten years it has been part of the Kurdistan Region, with the PUK maintaining most influence.
“Most of the forces deployed around Khanaqin are Arabs and the area is too wide to control,” Captain Rebwar, a PUK Peshmerga told Rudaw.
Rebwar said that maintaining security of the city is a major challenge due to the flat and open terrain around Khanaqin.
Our correspondent in Khanaqin said, “There is a big demand blood for the wounded,” and that medical officials have appealed to people for blood donations.
The attack comes just two days ahead of Iraq’s parliamentary elections. Security officials in Khanaqin said that strict measures are being taken to prevent further attacks.
The PUK leadership condemned Monday’s bombing, calling it an attack on the will of the Kurdish people.
“The aim of the explosion is to hit the will of Kurdistan voters so that they cannot decide the future of their country,” read an official statement by the PUK.
For his part, Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani called the attack “an attempt of terror and intimidation” against the people of Kurdistan.
“The terrorists must know that disasters and sacrifice only strengthens the unity of our people and with God’s help and our people we will triumph,” read a presidential statement.