Iraqi security forces broke up a terrorist group planning to use poison gas to attack targets inside the country, Iraq’s defense ministry said.
The five-member cell was trying to make chemicals, including sarin nerve gas, which would also be used in attacks in neighboring countries, the ministry said yesterday in a statement on its website.
There has been an upsurge in violence in Iraq since the U.S. withdrew its last combat troops at the end of 2011, reflecting tensions between Sunni Muslims and the country’s Shiite-led government. Terrorists killed more than 1,000 civilians and security forces in the country in May, surpassing the 712 killed in April, which was the deadliest month since June 2008, the United Nations mission to Iraq said in a statement yesterday.
Iraq holds the world’s fifth-biggest crude reserves, according to BP Plc statistics that include Canada’s oil sands.
The terrorist cell planning to use poison gas received instructions on how to make it from al-Qaeda outside of Iraq, al-Mada Press reported, citing defense ministry spokesman General Mohamed al-Askari.
Al-Askari, speaking at a press conference, said the group intended to put the gas in remotely controlled toy airplanes to attack Shiite Muslim pilgrims visiting the holy shrine of Kadhimiya in Baghdad, according to al-Mada.
Group members said they also intended to smuggle the weapons to a neighboring country and to use them on targets in Europe and North America, al-Mada cited al-Askari as saying. Two chemical manufacturing sites were raided in Baghdad and another unidentified province in the country, the ministry said.
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