Basra, Asharq Al-Awsat—Basra, southern Iraq’s largest city and the country’s only seaport on the Gulf, was subjected to two simultaneous terrorist attacks yesterday, leaving 10 dead and 18 wounded according to security and medical sources. Ali Al-Maliki, head of the Basra provincial council’s security committee, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the first explosion was the result of a car bomb parked near the general tax authority offices in Jamiat, central Basra, wounding two people”. He added, “Another car bomb exploded at a bus terminal in Garmat Ali, north of Basra, killing 10 and wounding 16 others, including women and children.”
Ali Al-Hilfi was an eyewitness at the site of the explosion in Garmat Ali. He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The suicide bomber was driving a Kia passenger vehicle and he detonated his explosives at the entrance to the terminal, once one of the security men tried to prevent him from entering.”
He added, “Dead bodies were scattered around while the locals assisted the wounded, as ambulances were late in arriving. Some of those injured were in a critical condition.”
Basra police chief Major General Faisal Al-Abadi said, “Initial investigations have revealed some of the circumstances surrounding the two incidents. The registration plates of the two cars used in the attacks have been identified, and the results will be announced soon.” He added, “Terrorist groups, after failing to infiltrate the city itself, are trying to target its surrounding areas in order to impact upon the wheel of investment in Basra with the upcoming provincial elections in mind.”
Basra province is Iraq’s main region for the production and export of oil. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki paid a visit on 25 February in order to prepare for his party’s campaign for the provincial elections there, scheduled to take place on 20 April. Basra has recently experienced relative stability when compared to the cities of central and western Iraq, with the last explosion occurring in mid-September 2012 in a market in Al-Qibla, located in the center of the province, resulting in 27 dead or wounded.
In related news, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), a group affiliated to Al-Qaeda, announced that it had carried out the coordinated suicide and firearm attacks targeting the Iraqi ministry of justice in central Baghdad last week, killing at least 25.
During the attack on Thursday, three cars exploded and a suicide bomber blew himself up in broad daylight in the heart of the Iraqi capital. After that, another suicide bomber headed to the ministry of justice and detonated his explosives, while militants began attacking the building before the Iraqi security forces were able to regain control. ISI revealed that it had issued the order for suicide bombers to attack the building floor by floor and to “liquidate” enemies inside, as reported by Reuters news agency.