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The New Arab

Car bomb explosion ends two-year calm on Iraq-Saudi border

An Iraqi fighter from the Al-Abbas popular mobilisation unit monitors the village of Nukhaib [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 16 January, 2020

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A minibus parked next to the road in the border town of Al-Nukhaib exploded Thursday, injuring two officers and four security personnel.
One Iraqi officer was killed and five others wounded in a car bomb explosion in the town of Al-Nukhaib, on the border with Saudi Arabia, in the first attack of its kind in the area in two years, Iraqi security forces command officials said Thursday.

The attack occured in an area that is effectively controlled by several Iran-linked Iraqi militias, most notably the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, Al-Najaba, Khorasani and Imam Ali.

A minibus parked next to the road in the border town of Al-Nukhaib, in Anbar province west of the capital Baghdad, exploded Thursday, a senior Iraqi official told a correspondent for The New Arab's Arabic-language service.

Two officers and four security personnel passing alongside the minbus were injured in the explosion. One of the officers was declared dead shortly after sustaining injuries.

A statement from the Joint Operations Command named the officer as Major Mazen Jabbar Ayed Al-Zarkanni.

Security forces have been deployed in the area to search for the perpetrators of the attack, the source added.

The attack comes amid an unexplained delay in the opening of the Arar border crossing between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

An official opening date was announced last month, but this was later canceled by the Iraqi authorities.

The crossing is ready for use by individuals and commercial convoys, Iraqi official sources said, but the office of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi informed Saudi Arabia the opening would be delayed - without providing a reason.

Iran-linked militia Hashd Al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), are "extensively deployed" in the town of Al-Nukhaib, a member of the local Anbar government told The New Arab.

"These militias are operating according to their own agendas, and they do not want to reopen the crossing," he said.

Iraq has postponed the opening of the Arar border crossing two times.

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