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Terrorism

Iraqis show solidarity following ISIS bombings

By Alaa Hussain in Baghdad

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Iraqis gather at the site of a car bomb explosion near Baghdad's al-Shuhada Bridge on May 30th, which killed at least 11 people and wounded 40, security and medical officials said. The blast followed an overnight suicide bombing at a popular Baghdad ice cream shop that killed at least 21 people. [Sabah Arar/AFP]

"Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) attacks targeting Baghdad's al-Karrada district and al-Shuhada Bridge that intended to inflame sectarian tensions among city residents have had the opposite effect, Iraqi officials told Diyaruna.

ISIS claimed two attacks that killed at least 30 people in Baghdad on May 30th.

The first attack, an overnight suicide bombing at a popular Baghdad ice cream shop, killed at least 21 people.

A bomb-rigged vehicle later blew up near the main pension office near al-Shuhada Bridge, one of the principal bridges over the Tigris River, killing at least 11 people and wounding at least 40, officials said.

The next day, however, Iraqis of both major sects joined forces to condemn the attacks en masse, launching community initiatives in support of the victims.

Support for the victims of the attack on al-Karrada, a largely Shia area, poured in from majority Sunni provinces such as Salaheddine, Ninawa and Anbar, demonstrating the group's failure to divide Iraqi society.

In Salaheddine, hundreds of young people took part in a blood drive for the victims overseen by the Free Iraqi Youth Movement.

The blood drive offered a message from Salaheddine to all Iraqis that Iraqi blood is one and the same, said Free Iraqi Youth Movement president Ali al-Hamadani.

"The drive lasted for two days, with 566 people stepping up," he told Diyaruna, adding that organisers worked with the Salaheddine health authorities to send blood to their counterparts in Baghdad.

In Ninawa province, residents showed solidarity by posting photos on social media of youth lighting candles in Mosul in remembrance of the victims of the Baghdad attacks.

ISIS bombs candlelight vigil

In the town of Heet in western Anbar province, a suicide bomber targeted a gathering of Iraqi youth attending a candlelight vigil, killing and wounding 17 people, including a reporter from Asia satellite channel.

On May 30th, Asia's war correspondent, Suhaib al-Heeti had been assigned to cover a candlelight vigil in Heet for the martyrs of al-Karrada in Baghdad, Asia's director of public relations Raad al-Mashadani told Diyaruna.

When al-Heeti arrived on location with his camera, a suicide bomber arrived on the scene and blew himself up, killing and wounding 17 people, he said. Al-Heeti did not survive the attack and died on the spot.

"Al-Heeti was an internally displaced person (IDP) for many years in Suleimania and Erbil and had only been back to his home in Anbar province for a short while," al-Mashadani said.

He described the young man as a "patient, hardworking and successful correspondent" who had celebrated his birthday just three days before the attack that took his life.

Though ended in a tragic scene, the candlelight vigil "sent messages of amity from Anbar to Baghdad", al-Mashadani said.

ISIS is feeling the pain of its heavy losses in Mosul, and is now trying to target national solidarity with such attacks, security analyst Fadhil Abu Ragheef told Diyaruna.

Iraq relies on its security forces and its intelligence capabilities to defeat ISIS, he said, but it also relies on the vigilance of Iraqis to thwart the group's terrorist plans.

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