AFP photo of the attack on the Shiite shrine in Balad, north of Baghdad.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—A suicide attack on a Shiite shrine in Balad north of the Iraqi capital by Islamic State (ISIS) militants that left at least 35 people dead and many others wounded, has been described by the United Nations mission in Iraq as an attempt to incite sectarian tensions.
“It is clear the cowardly attack on the shrine aims to spark sectarian tensions and drag Iraq back to the dark days of sectarian conflict. With the people’s awareness and unity, the terrorists’ goals will not be achieved,” the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Jan Kubis said in a statement.
According local health officials, 50 people were wounded in the attack.
A suicide bomber blew himself up outside the shrine of Sayid Mohammed bin Ali al-Hadi before gunmen stormed the place to open fire on the worshipers.
A second suicide bomber was reported to have blown himself up among the fleeing civilians.
“Once again the Daesh terrorists strike with deadly results, leaving many casualties among innocent people celebrating the Eid-ul-Fitr at the shrine and surrounding area,” Kubis said.
The attack in Balad comes days after a most devastating bombing in Baghdad’s Karrada neighborhood that killed 292 people.
“The enormity of this atrocity is coming to light by the day. Our hearts go out to the families who lost their loved ones, the other victims who have been injured, and Baghdadis as well as Iraqis in general who have been devastated by this great loss.” Kubis went on to say.
Reports from the Iraqi capital on Friday said that Prime Minister Haider Abadi has sacked a number of high-level security officials including Abdul-Amir al-Shamari, chief of the Baghdad operations command.
The Iraqi parliament is also set to summon the interior minister for questioning on the capital’s failing security and to answer for the Karrada bombing, Shakhawan Abdullah, head of the defense and security committee told Rudaw.