ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A car bomb exploded near a restaurant in western Mosul on Thursday evening. This is the second bombing within days, sparking fears of a return of insecurity to the city.
There are conflicting reports of the number of casualties. Two people were killed and 11 wounded, a Ministry of Defence spokesperson stated. According to a local MP, four people were killed in the explosion while AFP has reported three deaths.
The vehicle blew up near Abu Layla restaurant, a favourite spot of the city’s security forces.
"This is the second such attack in Mosul in a week. A bomb-laden car was blown up in the al-Ghabat area some days ago,” Khalaf al-Haddidi, member of Nineveh Provincial Council, told Rudaw.
He noted that the bombings come on the heels of a recent deadly attack south of city in Qayyarah.
"This is a dangerous thing that threatens the relative stability the city has been enjoying for some time," said Haddidi.
The KDP’s representative in Mosul, Saeed Mamuzini, said ISIS was to blame.
He said that ISIS militants have recently increased their movement in Mosul, claiming that the surge in activity has happened under the Hashd al-Shaabi’s watch.
An MP from Nineveh province accused security forces of failing in their duty.
"The return of terrorist activity to Mosul city is a dangerous sign of the return of criminal Daesh [ISIS] amid laxness and chaos from the security forces,” tweeted MP Ahmed al-Jabouri.
He said that the main checkpoints into the city don’t have equipment to detect devices.
The former governor of Nineveh, Atheel al-Nujaifi, also criticized the province’s military command.
ISIS was declared defeated in Iraq in December 2017, but remains a serious security threat, especially in Anbar province near the Syrian border and in the security gaps between Iraqi and Peshmerga forces in the disputed areas.
Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi condemned the bombing in a statement.
“The victories that were achieved and the blood that was spilled for the liberation of these areas cannot be lost," he said, calling on security officials to put in place a plan to prevent such breaches of security.
He also called for increased intelligence efforts in the area and a boost in numbers of security forces.
No group has immediately claimed responsibility.
People gathered at the scene of the bombing and shared live video with many making statements that life will go on in the city.
"As we are showing you, life is normal in Mosul city,” said one person.
Famed cellist Karim Wasfi was among those who gathered.
"I am sending a message, one stronger than the message of terrorism, that we are hanging on. Security forces are there. There is social cohesion," he said in video shared by Facebook user Fahad Jehad.
Wasfi said the owner of the restaurant will stay in business and people will eat here again.
"We are stronger than terrorism," he said.
Wasfi is the former director of the Baghdad Orchestra and now leads the Peace Through Arts Farabi Orchestra.
Updated at 10:53 pm