BASRA, Iraq (AP) — A motorcycle rigged with explosives went off in the center of Iraq's southern city of Basra on Tuesday, killing at least four people and wounding four others, according to Iraqi security forces.
The blast set ablaze two other vehicles and sent a column of black smoke into the sky. The governor of Basra, Asaad al-Idani, told reporters on the scene that a motorcycle had exploded, quickly blaming militants from the Islamic State group.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the morning attack near a major hospital, which shook residents of the city.
Iraq's Security Media Cell, an outlet affiliated with the country's security forces, said in a statement that four people were killed and four were wounded as a result of the fire in two cars that were near the motorcycle.
It said forensics teams were at the scene of the blast and that more details would be released on the nature of the explosion, once investigations were completed.
Explosions have been rare in the oil-rich, predominantly Shiite Basra region in recent years, particularly since the defeat of the Sunni militant Islamic State group in 2017.
“Daesh is trying to destabilize security in Basra, but it will not be successful,” Al-Idani said after inspecting the damage from the blast, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.
Aided by a U.S.-led coalition and Iran-backed armed group, Iraq declared victory over IS in late 2017. The group had seized two-thirds of the country in 2014, declaring a self-styled Islamic caliphate. However, IS continues to carry out sporadic attacks, often targeting security forces, through sleeper cells it maintains, particularly in the north.
There has also been an increase in political instability in Iraq following the Oct. 10 parliament elections which saw Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr emerge as the biggest winner. Shiite armed factions loyal to Iran which lost around two thirds of their parliamentary seats have rejected the results of the election, alleging fraud.
Nabil Al-jurani, The Associated Press