International

18 killed, over 90 wounded in Iraq explosion

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KATHMANDU June7: At least 18 people were killed while over 90 others sustained injuries in a huge blast in Iraq's Sadr City district near a Shiite mosque on Wednesday, Iraqi media reported.

Iraqi interior ministry confirmed the deaths and injuries but has not revealed the exact number of casualties. Earlier, the state television cited a ministry spokesman describing the explosion as "terrorist aggression against civilians", which resulted in "martyrs and wounded."

An hour later, however, Iraqi media began reporting that the explosion was not a deliberate attack but an accident at an army weapons depot.

The interior ministry spokesman said in a brief statement that the blast was caused after an ammunition cache suddenly went off and that security forces have started an investigation.  The ammunition had been stored in a mosque and the explosion happened during its transfer from the mosque to the car parked nearby, reported Reuter.

A photo from the scene shows a destroyed car and building.

Saudi Arabia's Al-Arabiya News agency reports, Sadr City is a "stronghold" of the Iraqi nationalist cleric Moqtada al-sadr, whose political faction won the May 12 parliamentary election. The parliament ordered a national recount of votes in May election on Wednesday.

In May, two homemade bombs targeted the headquarters of the Iraqi Communist Party, which is part of Sadr's bloc.

June 7, 2018 03:15 PM