2017 Mount Qaboun Paradise Hotel Bombing

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2017 Mount Qaboun Paradise Hotel Bombing
Part of the Irvadi Civil War
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Smoke rising from the Hotel.
Location Qush Tepa, Irvadistan
Date April 5, 2017 (2017-04-05)
10:20 – 10:21 (ST+5)
Target Irvadi government officials, foreign journalists
Attack type Suicide bombing
Weapon(s) Explosives
Deaths 77 (including perpetrator)
Injured 201
Perpetrators  Irvadi Freedom Defence Front
Assailants Cpt. Masoud Ibrahim Al-Badri
Motive Islamic Collectivism
Koy presence in Irvadistan
Anti-regime

The 2017 Mount Qaboun Paradise Bombing also known as the Qush Tepa Bombing was a suicide truck bombing that occurred on April 5, 2017, in Qush Tepa, Irvadistan. Captain Masoud Ibrahim Al-Badri drove a six ton water tanker laden with explosives close to the lobby of the Mount Qaboun Paradise Hotel and detonated the explosives. The explosives were reported to be a mixture of semtex and thermite. The explosion killed 47 people including Al-Badri, fires caused by the explosion spread through the hotel killing another 30 people either through burns or smoke inhalation. 201 others were injured, either from burns, smoke inhalation or debris such as flying glass.

The attack stands as the costliest terrorist incident in Irvadi history, killing and injuring more than the 2014 Qufeira Bombings which killed 56 people and injured 200 others. The bombing was also the first to be conducted by the Irvadi Freedom Defence Front and the first attack directed at the Irvadi state, with a vast majority of the fatalities in the hotel being government officials and members of the civil service. Two members of the National Council for Salvation were also killed in the attack, making them the highest profile victims of terror and the Irvadi Civil War.

Background

In January 2017, the Irvadi Freedom Defence Front was established reportedly by a group of discharged Irvadi soldiers and officers who had come to oppose the Amin Kamel regime and the Koy presence in the country, which they claimed was oppressing the Irvadi people for exclusive and unaccounted access to the country's oil reserves. The Front came to accuse Kamel and his regime of "surrendering the nation" to the Koy to save himself and his corrupt regime. The Front also expressed its desire to replace Kamel's socialist regime with an Islamic Collectivist state.

From January until April, the Front repeatedly produced videos and documents threatening to attack the regime unless the Koy evacuated the country, they initially threatened to strike at the "black heart of the regime" in Qufeira, either attacking a government ministry or the building housing the National Council for Salvation. However it was widely reported by the international press that the Irvadi government refused to take the threats seriously and even dismissed the Front as a "false story produced by the Salafis to destabilise the country".

Attack

On the 5 April 2017, at 10.10am, Captain Al-Badri drove the white Atavi D164 water tanker north along Fawzi Bashir Hariri Avenue towards the hotel, passing through two military checkpoints without rousing suspicion. He eventually reached the corner of Jalal Al-Dawla Road when he sped up the vehicle, he crashed through the security checkpoint protecting the road leading to the hotel, totaling two cars and injuring a guard. He then reached within 10 meters of the hotel lobby before detonating the explosives inside the hollow water tank at 10.20am.

The explosion expanded freely, hitting the exterior wall of the south-facing side of the hotel, blasting through windows and the glass lobby and the ground-floor restaurant which at the time was full serving residents breakfast. The explosion destroyed and set ablaze many cars east, west and south of the point of origin, the shockwave destroyed windows in a 200 meter radius. The incendiary nature of the explosion soon set ablaze flammable materials in the exposed hotel building, including curtains, tables, beds and clothing worn by staff and guests.

The explosion itself killed 47 people and injured 145, most of whom were inside the hotel at the time, yet 11 people outside were killed and 31 were injured. Fires broke out on the ground floor, first, second and third floors and quickly spread from room to room. Structural damage to the hotel was significant enough to block the main stairwell from the atrium to the rooms above the ground floor, slowing the evacuation and access for the emergency services.

Over the next forty minutes, a further 20 people would die inside the hotel from burns or smoke inhalation, most of these were hotel staff or guests trapped in their rooms or the upper floors due to the damaged stairwell. Ten other people would later die enroute to hospital or whilst receiving treatment for their injuries.

Perpetrator

On April 6th, the Irvadi security services identified the bomber as 24 year old Captain Masoud Ibrahim Al-Badri, a former soldier in the Irvadi People's Defence Force who was medically discharged in January 2017 after losing his leg in a botched offensive against the Caliphate in November 2016. Eye-witness reports, including the checkpoints along the route he took, reported that he was wearing military fatigues and his rank insignia and had a genuine military ID pass, which had not be confiscated upon his discharge.

Al-Badri was killed instantly when he detonated the explosives. Despite initial reports that he had a family, it was later reported by the Irvadi state media that Al-Badri's family had been killed by the Caliphate when they seized control of Armata in 2015. Former army colleagues reported that he had a "deep seated hatred for the Koy" and later the regime.

Aftermath

Casualties

The bombing ranks as the most deadly in Irvadi history, with 77 dead and 201 injured. A vast majority of the casualties were Irvadis, however foreign nationals were recorded including Koy, Sjealandian, Namorese and Daeconese.

According to the Irvadi Health Ministry, 26 died as a result of blunt force trauma from the explosion itself, 33 died as a result of substantial burns, these individuals were found in the lobby, restaurant and the hotel rooms closest to the explosion on the southern side of the hotel. The remaining 18 died as a result of smoke inhalation, three of these died enroute to hospital, whilst another succumb to his injuries in hospital.

At least four children were among the casualties, aged between 3 and 14. The Irvadi government noted that due to the hotel being used as a residence for government officials who evacuated the capital in 2015 in fear of the Caliphate, the hotel was packed with guests. The officials also shared the hotel with some international journalists and officials from international aid agencies.

Victims by nationality
Country Dead
 Ainin 3
 Daecon 1
 Irvadistan 63
 Koyro 7
 Namor 2
 Sjealand 1

Among the deceased were several prominent Irvadi regime officials, including two members of the National Council for Salvation, 56 year old Mohammad Al-Shehri and 61 year old Rashid Abdullah Zahawi. They were found deceased in their respective hotel rooms, both from smoke inhalation, both of their families were also found deceased from the same causes in their bedrooms. Six of the fatalities were senior officials in the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Transportation and the State Administration for Refugees.

Foreign nationals

In total, 14 foreign nationals were killed in the bombing; including seven from Koyro, three from Ainin two from Namor, one from Sjealand and one from Daecon. The seven Koy fatalities were attaches to the 37th Army deployed to Irvadistan to aid the regime in combating the Caliphate, their identities were not released by the Koy government.

The two Namorese and Daeconese fatalities were all employees of the Organization of Esquarian Nations, residing in the hotel full time to oversee aid programmes throughout the country. The three Aininians were identified as Marie Dujardin, André Guerrier and Alain Vasseur, all employees of the OEN aid operation in Irvadistan. The Namorese citizens were identified as XX and XX. The Daeconese national was identified as Brigid Shannon, she was killed by the explosion according to the Irvadi National Coroners Office, whilst in the restaurant. The Sjealandian national was identified as Annette Nöhlfeldt, the war correspondent for the Hovedstadens Tidende. She was was killed by smoke inhalation according to the INCO, her body was found in her hotel room.

Besides the fatalities, a total of 31 foreign nationals were also injured in the bombing.

Claims of responsibility

Caliphate

On the 6 April, the Caliphate claimed responsibility through a posted message on social media, however the Irvadi intelligence services reported that their statement was full of inaccuracies or fabrications. In their statement, the Caliphate incorrectly claimed that the explosion was caused by a car bomb and that the hotel was full of only foreign nationals and not government officials. The incorrect statements and assertions led to the dismissing of the Caliphate as the group responsible for the bombing.

Irvadi Freedom Defence Front

On 7 April, the Irvadi Freedom Defence Front claimed responsibility for the bombing, identifying the attacker correctly (though the Irvadi government did not release his identity until the 8 April). The Front statement also correctly identified the vehicle and the explosives used in the bombing. In their statement, the Front claimed that the bombing was a warning to the regime, that "unless the oriental oppressor (Koyro) withdraws, more will follow".

The Front called Al-Badri a "national hero" and a martyr for the "cause of just freedom and pious independence from the orient".

The nature of the Front's statement led to the confirmation of their responsibility by the Irvadi security services on April 10.

Analysis

The bombing marked the introduction of the Front as a terrorist organisation operating within Irvadistan and the first to be entirely and exclusively domestic (since the Caliphate drew thousands of foreign fighters). Despite its responsibility for the bombing, the Irvadi intelligence services still dismissed the Front as viable threat and continued to focus its attention on combating the Caliphate, enabling the Front to assassinate the Finance Minister, Walid Sadiqqi in the Athbah Bombing on April 9, which killed 17 people and injured 50 others.

Independent investigations and inquiries by the Irvadi Observatory for Human Rights revealed that the Front was made up of many either discharged or serving Irvadi regulars who had become disaffected with the regime due to the overbearing presence of Koy officers in military operations; many of which result in high casualty rates for Irvadis and are poorly planned. It also marked the formal detachment of the military in sections from the regime after years of being made subordinate to the Popular Defence Brigades and the Koy forces.

The bombing of the hotel and the immediate follow up attack in Athbah led to serious concerns that the Front had members or supporters in the highest levels of governments, which has enabled them to gain access to the diaries of prominent government officials.

International reaction

  •  Ankoren: Ankoren's Foreign Minister Hüseyin Dündar condemned the attack as a "barbarous and inhumane assault upon the innocent people of Irvadistan" and that Ankoren stands with Irvadistan in confronting terrorism at all times.
  •  Koyro: Koyro's Leader, Ohanka Jon Bak-su issued condemnation of the attack. Declaring it "A shameless and cowardly attack against the innocent" and that Koyro would stand with Irvadistan against all "hostile counter-revolutionary elements". The Central Military Commission and the Central Command of the Revolutionary Guard stated they would "spare no efforts" in hunting down the perpetrators.
  •  Sjealand: The Archking, Frederik VI of Sjealand publicly denouced the attack calling it "a disgusting display of a lack of humanity and waste of innocent human lives". The government also promised funding to the forces combating the perpetrators
  •  Xiaodong: Xiaodongese foreign minister Xu Bangguo stated that Xiaodong stood "firmly behind the Irvadistani people and the democratically elected Provisional Authority of Irvadistan in the face of this attack on innocent civilians".