Canadian PM visits Iraq as bomb attacks kill 13

2015-05-02 17:28
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is welcomed by a Peshmerga Honour Guard upon his arrival in Erbil, Iraq. (Sean Kilpatrick, AP)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is welcomed by a Peshmerga Honour Guard upon his arrival in Erbil, Iraq. (Sean Kilpatrick, AP)

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Baghdad - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a surprise visit on Saturday to Iraq pledging to continue its support for the country's battle against ISIS.

Harper's visit to both Baghdad and Iraq's Kurdish region in the north came as seven women and children were killed by a roadside bomb and a suicide blast killed six Iraqi troops.

The Canadian government has announced $139m in additional aid to address the refugee crisis around the region precipitated by the fighting, in addition to the $67m already committed to Iraq.

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi received Harper in Baghdad. Canada is part of the US-led international coalition supporting the Iraqi military with airstrikes, training and weapons.

Harper pledged to continue his government's support for Iraq.

"Canada will not stand idly by while ISIS threatens Canadians and commits barbaric acts of violence and injustice in Iraq against innocent civilians," Harper said in a statement, referring to the Islamic State group by an alternate acronym. "We will continue to help Iraq fight ISIS as part of the international coalition against this terrorist group."

Al-Abadi hailed Canada's role in that coalition as "essential" and called on the international community to join forces against the extremist threat as "terrorism is not only threatening Iraq, but the region and the whole world."

In the eastern province of Diyala, a minibus was traveling on a road frequently used by military convoys when a bomb detonated killing five women, two children and wounding four others, police said.

Islamic State fighters were largely driven out of the eastern province earlier this year but are still able to plant roadside bombs.

In Anbar province, six troops were killed when a suicide car bomber drove an explosive-rigged Humvee into their headquarters in the town of Garma, another police officer said. The dead included three soldiers and three militia members, he added. Nine other troops were wounded.

Two medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to release the information.

Read more on:    stephen harper  |  iraq  |  canada  |  security

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