10 Jun 2016

Suicide bombing at camp where NZ troops deployed

10:29 am on 10 June 2016

The Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has given an assurance that New Zealand troops serving at Camp Taji in Iraq are in no greater danger following a suicide bomb attack near the camp.

Four Iraqi soliders in full kit and armed line up for photos.

Iraqi trainees at Camp Taji Photo: Pool Photo

A suicide car bomber killed at least 11 people at an Iraqi army checkpoint near the outskirts of the camp, about 27km north of Baghdad, where New Zealand troops are training Iraqi soldiers.

The explosion was one of two to hit Iraq yesterday, claiming a total of 22 lives.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures, but Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said all 106 New Zealanders at the camp were safe.

He said the blast, just before 6pm (NZ time) yesterday, was between two and three kilometres from the barracks for New Zealand and Australian troops.

"Our troops know they are in a volatile place, but they are inside a well-secured perimeter at Taji, and they take the steps necessary to ensure they can safely continue to train the Iraqi Security Forces to rid Iraq of D'aesh," Mr Brownlee says.

The attack came a day after Iraqi special forces pushed into the IS-held city of Fallujah - about 50km west of Taji - in a large-scale attack launched last month.

Mr Brownlee told Morning Report the push into Fallujah might lead to more attacks, particularly in Baghdad.

But he said the training mission was based inside the camp and he did not think the situation had become more dangerous for New Zealand troops.

"We have always know that the station had high alert, so that hasn't changed.

"It means that the work that they are doing - and remember that this mission has trained some 7000 Iraqi soldiers now - is having quite an affect when it comes to the battle field. And it actually increases the understanding people should have in the value of that mission."

The Islamic State group is claiming responsibility for the Taji bombing, which it says was aimed at the Iraqi army.

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