The Iraqi army announced yesterday that 23 people, including eight policemen, were killed and dozens wounded after three car bombs targeting a popular market in Kokjali, an eastern suburb of Mosul, were detonated. ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombings.
A statement issued by the joint operations command said that 15 civilians and 8 policemen were killed when three car bombs exploded in a market in Kokjali, an eastern suburb of Mosul that Iraqi forces recaptured from ISIS at the beginning of November. Life was beginning to return to this town gradually and markets that brought goods from Erbil were teeming with shoppers coming from neighbourhoods under the control of government forces.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement that it posted on Twitter and confirmed that the operations were carried out by three suicide bombers. Twenty people were killed and ten Hummer vehicles and four 4×4 cars were destroyed in the attacks.
On its part, the United Nations said that four Iraqi aid workers and at least seven civilians were killed by mortar fire this week during an operation to distribute aid in Mosul as the campaign to retake the city from ISIS continued to make slow and punishing progress.
A statement issued by the United Nations said that two separate mortar attacks this week killed aid workers and wounded about 40 people. It also said that indiscriminate shelling violated international law.
The UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande condemned the two attacks and considers them a violation of humanitarian principles. She said that “People waiting for aid are already vulnerable and need help. They should be protected, not attacked”. She continued by saying that “All parties to the conflict – all parties – have an obligation to uphold international humanitarian law and ensure that civilians survive and receive the assistance they need.”
Grande did not blame any party for the attacks but ISIS extremists retreating from the military offensive have repeatedly bombed areas after they were retaken by the army, killing or wounding scores of residents fleeing in the opposite direction.
The US backed assault on Mosul, the militants’ last major stronghold in Iraq, was launched by a 100,000-strong alliance of local forces on October 17. It has become the biggest military operation in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Authorities do not release figures for civilian or military casualties, but medical officials say dozens of people are wounded each day in the battle to liberate Mosul.