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Iraq: One killed in explosion in base housing pro-Iran Popular Mobilisation Forces

The cause of the blast was not immediately clear, with US forces denying involvement
A soldier stands guard outside a hospital in Hilla in the Babylon province where people wounded in a bombing overnight on a military base housing a coalition of pro-Iranian armed groups are being treated, on 20 April 2024 (AFP)
A soldier stands guard outside a hospital in Hilla, in Iraq's Babylon province, where people wounded in an explosion at a military base housing a coalition of pro-Iran armed groups are being treated, on 20 April 2024 (AFP)

One member of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) was killed and eight wounded in an explosion at an Iraqi military base housing the pro-Iran paramilitary on Saturday. 

The cause of the blast, which hit the PMF command post in the Kalso military base in Babylon province south of Baghdad, was not immediately clear. 

Security sources and an interior ministry official initially told Reuters and AFP that it was caused by an air strike. 

The PMF, an Iraqi state-funded and Iran-aligned paramilitary umbrella organisation, said the explosion was the result of an "attack", according to Reuters, without providing further details. 

In a statement, it said the blast caused "material losses" and casualties, adding that an investigation was underway. 

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The Iraqi military later said no drones or fighter jets were detected in the airspace of Babylon province before or during the explosion.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and Israel

The United States, which has exchanged fire with pro-Iran armed groups in Iraq since the Israeli war on Gaza began in October, denied involvement in the Saturday attack. 

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The US Central Command said on X, formerly Twitter, social media platform that reports claiming the US conducted air strikes in Iraq on Saturday were "not true".

The Israeli army told AFP it "does not comment on information published in foreign media".

The incident came a day after Israel was accused of conducting an attack on the Iranian city of Isfahan. 

Iran fired a barrage of missiles and drones at Israel last week in retaliation for a suspected Israeli air strike on its embassy in Damascus on 1 April, which killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers.

Regional tensions have worsened in recent months, with armed groups across Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen claiming responsibility for attacks against Israel in support of Palestinians in Gaza. 

After the war erupted in October, Iran-backed groups also launched a series of attacks against US troops in Iraq and Syria, ostensibly to pressure Washington to end the war on Gaza. 

The attacks stopped in February after a drone strike killed three American soldiers in Jordan.

However, a group called the Islamic Resistance in Iraq has continued to claim responsibility for attacks against Israel.

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