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One person killed as explosions target Baghdad alcohol store

Alcohol stores have been frequently targeted in Baghdad [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 January, 2021

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Two explosions targeting a liquor store in Baghdad killed at least one person and injured another, local news reported.
At least one person was killed and another wounded after a double explosion rocked a store selling alcohol in the Iraqi capital, police sources said on Tuesday.

"An explosive device exploded at noon targeting a store selling alcoholic beverages in the Al-Saadoun area, and another bomb targeted a vehicle belonging to the owner of the shop," a police source told local Al-Sumaria news outlet.

The explosion killed one person, injured another and caused damage to the store, the source added.

In December, Iraqi security agencies confirmed they were carrying out the country's first-ever national defence plan to protect liquor stores after a rising number of attacks by pro-Iran militia groups.

More than 24 liquor stores were targeted in vigilante attacks over the past two months, according to a report by The New Arab's Arabic-language sister publication, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed in December. 

Another five clubs in Baghdad were closed after owners received threats - including warnings in the form of stun grenades.

"This month saw nine attacks targeting liquor stores in the Karrada, Al-Waziriya, New Baghdad, and other areas," an Iraqi police officer told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed in December. 

"The attacks were all carried out by improvised explosive devices which were placed at the gates of shops. They explosions caused severe damage [to the properties]," the officer said.

According to the source, the Iraqi government said it would roll out a plan to protect liquor shops across all districts in Baghdad. It has already gone into effect in specific high-risk areas, he said.

Under the security plan, security personnel will be deployed - from sunset till 10am - near liquor stores, which are licensed under Iraqi law.

Read also: Bootleg booze touted as 'corona cure' kills dozens in Iran

The initiative comes after shopkeepers filed lawsuits demanding compensation from the government after damage to their business premises in vigilante attacks. 

Ahl Al-Maarouf ["People of Virtue"] - a militia brigade linked to Iran - has already reportedly warned security forces to stay away from shops selling alcohol, warning of imminent attacks.

"We ask them to stay away from these corrupt stores, because we will not stop targeting them until the soil of Baghdad has been cleared of their impurity," the group said in a statement circulated by Iraqi media.

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