The death toll from two car bombs claimed by Islamic State in the southern Iraqi city of Samawa on Sunday rose to 32 and is expected to keep rising, police and medical sources said.
At least 75 people were wounded in the blasts, which hit a local government building and a nearby bus station, the sources said.
Unverified online photographs showed a large plume of smoke rising above the buildings as well as burnt out cars and bodies on the ground, including the corpses of several children, at the site of one of the blasts. Police and firefighters carried victims on stretchers and in their arms.
Islamic State holds positions mostly in Sunni areas of the country’s north and west, far from the mainly Shiite southern provinces where Samawa is located. Such attacks are relatively rare.
The rise of the ultra-hardline Sunni terrorists has exacerbated Iraq’s sectarian conflict (mostly between Shiites and Sunnis) which reignited after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
The quota-based governing system put in place by the United States at the time is currently being challenged by hundreds of protesters who camped out overnight in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone after storming the parliament building.