A soccer game in Iraq came to a devastatingly premature ending yesterday, as nearly 40 individuals have fallen victim to a suicide bomber attack.
Terrorist organization ISIS is claiming responsibility for the suicide bomber who killed “at least” 32 and injured a minimum of 84 others, of which 12 are listed in critical condition in Iskandariya. Of those known to be dead, an estimated 17 of the victims are male soccer fans between the age of 10 and 16.
The soccer game blast occurred around 7:15 p.m. Friday (1:30 p.m. EST), according to NBC News, at the conclusion of a game during a trophy presentation.
The city of Iskandariya itself, which is located about 25 miles south of the country’s capital of Baghdad, contains an often potentially combustible mix of Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims, seemingly standing tall as a strong representation of the conflict going on throughout most of northern and western Iraq.
In the aftermath of this tragic soccer game suicide bomber attack, a “local police captain” revealed that “the suicide attacker blew himself up in the crowd,” according to Daily Caller. Victims are believed to include Iskandariya’s mayor and an unnamed sheik.
“The mayor died in [the] hospital,” said one medic who was treating the wounded at Iskandariya Hospital, also per Daily Caller. “[This occurred] as a result of the serious wounds he suffered in the blast.”
Meanwhile, a fan-recorded camera video of the deadly soccer game explosion has gone viral:
In a recorded statement, a disappointed FIFA head Gianni Infantino said that he was “shocked and terribly saddened” by the unexpected attacks. “Around the world, football unites people,” he said in a statement that was published by multiple news outlets. “It is a very sad day, when people, going to a match together, become the victims of such violence.”
For U.S. and allied forces looking to combat the tide of terrorism in Iraq, unfortunately, the attacks are hardly quite that shocking.
“We extend our condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this cowardly attack,” said the U.S. State Department in an official statement.
“The United States remains committed in its support to the Iraqi people and the unity of Iraq,” the agency continued. The U.S.-led coalition estimates to have taken control of 40 percent of the areas in Iraq and 20 percent in Syria that formerly housed ISIS members.
Portions of the region, NBC News noted according to the Amaq news agency, are controlled by ISIS militants that are specifically claiming responsibility. Experts told NBC News that this suicide bombing — in addition to a number of other regional attacks in recent months — seems to indicate that Iraqi government forces recently working to reclaim land in the northern and western part of the country from ISIS might, in fact, be stretching itself too thin.
The attacks come as, according to Iraqi military spokesperson Yahya Rusoul, Iraq troops and Sunni tribal fighters recaptured Kubeisa in western Anbar province, as well as a group of villages in the northern Nineveh province.
Per Mashable, in fact, ground forces are preparing to push into the northern city of Mosul, which is the largest city in Iraq to be controlled by the militant group.
Experts, however, warn that ISIS and its self-proclaimed “caliphate” groups will likely continue to revert to guerrilla tactics such as suicide bomber attacks on unarmed civilians as their terror cells are pushed further under the radar.
The attacks come just days after 31 were killed and 300 injured after ISIS bombings in Brussels.
[Image by Mario Tarna/Getty Images]