Shocking footage had emerged showing a terrified child suicide bomber being disarmed by Kurdish police officers.
In the video, which was taken in Kirkurk, northern Iraq, on Sunday, and aired by the Turkish news agency Anadolu, an unidentified male child can be seen surrounded by police, with two officers holding his arms out to the side. Around his waist is what appears to be a white explosives belt, complete with red wires. Two men are then seen cutting the belt off, before rushing the screaming boy into a police truck and driving him away.
According to Anadolu, the child was 15 years old and experts were able to safely detonate the belt away from the public. The boy was apprehended less than an hour after a suicide bomb attack on a Shiite mosque in the city, Kirkuk police department spokesman Col. Avrasiya Kamil Wais told The Associated Press. In the mosque attack, only the bomber died and two people were wounded.
“The boy claimed during interrogation that he had been kidnapped by masked men who put the explosives on him and sent him to the area,” said Kirkuk intelligence official Brig. Chato Fadhil Humadi.
The boy, Humadi added, was displaced from ISIS-held city of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, by recent military operations in the area. He arrived in Kirkuk a week ago, Humadi said. The boy’s name is known to the police.
Islamic State group’s media arm, the Aamaq news agency, on Monday claimed responsibility for the mosque bombing, but made no statement about the boy.
Kirkuk, an oil rich city claimed by both Iraq’s central government and the country’s Kurdish region, has seen a rise in ethnic tensions following the Islamic State group’s blitz across northern and western Iraq in 2014. Iraqi security forces largely withdrew from Kirkuk and Kurdish forces known as the peshmerga took control of the city. Since then, Shiite militia fighters have also massed around the city.
The area is home to Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen who all have competing claims to the area. The Kurds have long wanted to incorporate the city into their semi-autonomous region, but Iraq’s central government opposes this.