IS Plants Mines, Bombs in Palmyra

IS Plants Mines, Bombs in PalmyraIS Plants Mines, Bombs in Palmyra

The Islamic State militant group has planted mines and bombs in the ancient part of the central Syrian city of Palmyra, home to Roman-era ruins, a group monitoring the war said on Sunday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was not immediately clear whether the group was preparing to destroy the ancient ruins or planted the mines to deter government forces from advancing towards the city, also known as Tadmur, Reuters reported.

"They have planted it yesterday. They also planted some around the Roman Theater, we still do not know the real reason," said Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the observatory.

Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria's head of antiquities, said the reports of IS planting bombs in Palmyra "seems true" and the city is "a hostage in their hands, the situation is dangerous."

The insurgent group in May seized the city of 50,000 people, site of some of the world's most extensive and best-preserved ancient Roman ruins.

IS has proclaimed a caliphate to rule across territories it holds in both Syria and Iraq. Its militants have a history of carrying out mass killings in towns and cities they capture and of destroying ancient monuments which they consider evidence of paganism.

Officials in Iraq also said on Sunday separate bombings killed at least five people outside of Baghdad.

A police officer said a bomb went off Sunday in an outdoor market in the town of Mahmudiyah, about 30 km south of Baghdad, killing three civilians and wounding nine.

Another officer says a second bombing killed two tribal fighters and wounded three in the town of Madain, about 20 km southeast of Baghdad.

Inside Baghdad, authorities found the bodies of three men dumped in the streets, all shot in the chest and head with their hands and legs tied. None had identification cards.