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Interdiction of two insurgents armed with explosive belts in and around Mosul underlines existing security concerns

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At approximately 19:30 on 26 April, Fajr PMF elements northwest of Mosul City shot and killed a suicide bomber wearing a suicide belt as he approached a PMF outpost in the Tanak Neighborhood in the Mizmalat Heights. PMF reports later stated that additional IS forces were engaged and defeated. Reports that three Fajr PMF were wounded lends credibility to this scenario. PMF sources asserted that this incident involved the interdiction of a would-be suicide bomber who intended to infiltrate nearby Tanak neighborhood of western Mosul City.

Although this cannot be discounted, alternative circumstances are promoted by the rarity of deliberate suicide attacks, the involvement of a relatively small explosive belt used for defensive means instead of a more lethal explosive vest, the possible involvement of multiple insurgents, and other considerations tied to current IS activity patterns. In further context, not one effective assessed deliberate suicide vest attack has been noted in Iraq up to this point in 2019.

At 23:00, a 15-year-old wearing a suicide belt was killed during what appears to be a premature detonation as he approached a local police checkpoint in the Intisar area of southeast Mosul. Initial accounts stated that only the bomber was killed. In response to these events, security forces were heavily deployed to search for additional suspects.

Most accounts described this incident as a thwarted suicide attack against the checkpoint, or debated if another more attractive target was intended. On a historic basis, IS commonly employed adolescents as suicide bombers due to their susceptibility to being influenced to conduct such actions. However, in conjunction with above-noted considerations pertaining to the earlier incident, it is unclear if the IS member intended to conduct a suicide attack during this incident. It is very possible that the IS member employed the explosive belt under duress to avoid capture once he was compromised.

The events that transpired on the night of 26 April served as an important reminder of broader enduring IS activity in and around this symbolic city, and what is generally a high measure of performance by security forces mitigating relevant threats. Threats associated with IS infiltration remain most pronounced during hours of darkness, though incidents during daylight hours are not uncommon. The most significant recent demonstration of IS-related threats within Mosul City were illustrated by the spike in vehicle borne IED activity in February and March. All forms of IS activity will continue to be closely monitored for shifts in patterns.

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