ISIS car bombs kill at least 14 in southern Iraq

Policemen gather at the site of a car bomb attack in Samawa, south of Baghdad, May 1, 2016.
Policemen gather at the site of a car bomb attack in Samawa, south of Baghdad, May 1, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

BAGHDAD (REUTERS) - Two car bombs claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) killed at least 14 people and wounded 37 others in the centre of the southern Iraqi city of Samawa on Sunday (May 1), police said.

The first blast was near a local government building and the second one about 60 metres away at a bus station, police 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 at the site of one of the blasts, including several children. Police and firefighters carried victims on stretchers and in their arms.

ISIS holds positions mostly in Sunni areas of the country's north and west, far from the mainly Shi'ite southern provinces where Samawa is located. Such attacks are relatively rare.

The rise of the ultra-hardline Sunni insurgents has exacerbated Iraq's sectarian conflict, mostly between Shi'ites and Sunnis, which emerged after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

The quota-based governing system put in place by the United States at the time is being challenged by hundreds of protesters who camped out overnight in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone after storming the parliament building.