The Jakarta Post
A suicide bomber blew himself up in a soccer stadium south of the Iraqi capital on Friday, killing 41 people and wounding 105, security officials said, as the military announced new gains on the ground against the Islamic State group.
The security and public health officials provided the updated toll Saturday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
The bombing took place Friday during a match in the small stadium in the city of Iskanderiyah, 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the capital, Baghdad.
The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had targeted Shiite militiamen. IS has been waging a campaign of suicide bombings in and around the capital as Iraqi forces and their allies battle the militants in the north and west of the country.
The extremist group has lost ground in recent months in Iraq and Syria, but has struck back with a series of large attacks targeting civilians. IS claimed this week's attacks in Brussels, which killed 31 people.
The bombing took place during a match in the small stadium in the city of Iskanderiyah, 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Baghdad, the officials said. Medical officials confirmed the death toll. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.
The bombing came as Iraqi military spokesman Yahya Rusoul announced that Iraqi troops and Sunni tribal fighters recaptured the town of Kubeisa in western Anbar province from the Islamic State group. A day earlier, IS fighters were pushed out of a string of villages in Iraq's northern Nineveh province under cover of heavy coalition airstrikes.
Iraqi ground forces are working to build on recent gains in Anbar and prepare for an eventual push on the northern city of Mosul, the largest city held by the militants in the "caliphate" they declared across parts of Iraq and Syria. The U.S.-led coalition estimates that IS has lost 40 percent of the territory it once held in Iraq and around 20 percent of its territory in Syria.
Analysts and coalition officials say they expect that as it loses ground on the battlefield, it will turn to more insurgent style attacks in Iraq and internationally. On Tuesday, bombings in Brussels claimed by IS killed 31 people and injured nearly 300. (ags)
Eds: updated with the number of casualties in the first paragraph, and the anonimity of the sources in the second paragraph.