Abdel Thamer, a cameraman for the state-run Al-Iraqiya TV station, was killed in a suicide bombing at a police checkpoint in Iraq’s Babil province, according to news reports. The explosion killed dozens of Iraqis, including Muthanna Abdel Hussein, another cameraman for the station.
The blast destroyed dozens of cars waiting to pass through the checkpoint, trapping some victims in their burning vehicles. It is unclear if the journalists were driving a vehicle or how near they were to the checkpoint at the time of the explosion. There were conflicting reports on the number of casualties, but a Reuters report citing police and medical sources said that as many as 45 people were killed and 157 injured. Abdel Hussein’s mother told Reuters that she identified her son by his socks and shoes.
The Iraq Journalists Syndicate reported that Abdel Hussein and Abdel Thamer were covering preparations for next month’s parliamentary elections. The elections would be the first since American forces left the country in 2011 and would be held despite a significant spike in violence across the country.
No group immediately claimed responsibility f or the attack, but Iraqi officials said they believed Al-Qaeda was responsible. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the formation of a committee to investigate the explosion, according to news reports. At the time of the bombing, Islamic State in Iraq and Sham was the official Iraq affiliate of Al-Qaeda.The militant group later formally split with Al-Qaeda and rebranded itself Islamic State after announcing the formation of a caliphate