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Several civilian casualties from IED attack affecting bus near Karbala

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At around 18:10 on 27 July, according to the Security Media Cell and other sources, an IED emplaced in a 13-passenger minibus detonated while the vehicle was travelling on Baghdad-Karbala Road near Checkpoint 54. Initial casualty reporting cited one killed civilian and three others wounded. Higher casualty counts from typically credible sources cited two killed and six wounded. IS-affiliated Amaq News Agency claimed responsibility for the incident. The organization claimed that an IED detonated against a bus transporting a number of Shi’a individuals on the Karbala-Musayyib Road. Five Shi’a individuals were killed, and the bus was disabled as a result. Later accounts asserted this incident instead involved a malfunction in the fuel system resulting in an explosion. That said, deceptive reporting of accidental causes intended to refute a security setback is possible.

Neither possibility can be outright discounted, with the connotations surrounding a possible IED attack important to examine. The emplacement of IEDs on buses, in storage compartments or magnetically attached, is a recently rare but historically common IS tactic. Several attacks along these lines were reported in Baghdad between September and October 2018. The tempo of such incidents dropped along with overall reductions in IS capabilities in the capital over time. However, the potential for a resurgence in this tactic was recently highlighted by coordinated IED attacks against two buses in Kirkuk City on the evening of 27 June, which killed at least two civilians and wounded as many as 26 others.

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