SAMARRA, Iraq: A suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden armored vehicle into houses used by Shiite militiamen north of the Iraqi city of Samarra, killing at least 17 people, police and medical sources said on Tuesday.
The attack took place in Abbasiya, around 15 kilometers (nine miles) north of Samarra, on Monday evening and completely destroyed two houses, the sources said. Thirteen people were also wounded.
“The destruction was huge. Those homes were by the [Tigris] river and had been requisitioned by the militiamen to use as an observation post,” the police officer said.
He said the militiamen were monitoring the river to prevent Islamic State (IS) jihadist fighters coming from the east from crossing over to the west bank.
The main road leading from Baghdad to the north of the country runs through Samarra on the west bank of the Tigris.
Samarra is a mainly Sunni city that is home to one of the holiest Shiite Muslim sites in Iraq which is guarded by large contingents of Shiite militiamen.
The suicide car bombing comes after Kurdish fighters battling IS jihadists for the Syrian town of Kobane employed a new tactic when a female suicide bomber blew herself up in an attack claimed to have killed dozens of militants.
The young woman, a full-time fighter with the Syria-based Kurdish rebel group the People’s Protection Units (YPG), killed herself in the attack on Sunday, Kurdish sources told Agence France-Presse.
Her name in Kurdish was Dilar Gencxemis but she went under the nom-de-guerre of Arin Mirkan, the YPG said in a statement.
She was from the Syrian town of Afrin in the Aleppo province of northern Syria, just south of the Turkish border.
With Kurdish fighters under increasing pressure from the IS jihadists seeking to seize Kobane, this is the first time a suicide bomber has been used by Kurdish forces in the conflict.
“She threw many grenades at IS insurgents. After that, she blew herself up,” he said, adding that dozens of IS fighters were killed in her assault.