A crop of prospective Iraqi suicide bombers were killed Monday when their instructor unwittingly detonated himself during a training session at a militant camp in the Samarra province, north of Baghdad, reports say.
The New York Times reveals the would-be terrorists were part of a group of Sunni militant insurgents called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that is currently engaging the Iraqi Army, which is predominantly Shiite. ISIS is described as an al Qaeda breakaway group and the dominant force in the Sunni insurgency. Quoting police and army officials, the Times story details that 22 ISIS members were killed, and 15 were wounded, in the accidental suicide bombing explosion when the instructor detonated a belt with live explosives. Eight militants were detained when they tried to escape.
Per the Times, an Iraqi Army officer described the unidentified suicide bomb instructor as “a prolific recruiter who was ‘able to kill the bad guys for once.'”
The Associated Press has also reported the explosion, but is calling it an accidental car bomb explosion. The AP story details 21 dead and more than two dozen arrested in the incident. The ensuing investigation revealed seven car bombs in unmarked vehicles, several explosive belts and roadside bombs in the search of tow houses and a garage. Iraqi security forces rushed to the scene upon hearing the explosion.
The militants were attending a lesson on making car bombs and explosive belts when a glitch set off one of the devices during the car bomb part of the demonstration.
In related news, Osama al-Nujaifi, speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, survived an assassination attempt in the Salam neighbourhood of Mosul, according to Al Jazeera. The report details that two of his bodyguards were wounded in the explosion of a roadside bomb. The AP describes al-Nujaifi as “one of the most prominent Sunni officials in the country.”
These latest developments are part of a surge of sectarian violence in Iraq. They come in the wake of a string of car bomb attacks Thursday, February 6, that claimed the lives of 13 civilians in Baghdad. In another story, the AP says 2013 saw the highest death toll in Iraq since 2007, according to figures from the United Nations, when sectarian violence first subsided in the war-torn nation.
“The terrorist groups have made a strong comeback in Iraq and that the security problems are far from over, and things are heading from bad to worse,” said Hamid al-Mutlaq, a member of the parliament’s security and defense committee.