AMMAN: FIFA vice-president Prince Ali of Jordan has sent his “most heartfelt condolences” to the Iraq football family after a bonb killed nine young football players and fans on a football pitch in the southern Iraqi city of Hilla.

He said: “I am appalled by today’s attacks in Hilla which took the innocent lives of nine young members of our football family. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones as well as the Iraqi football family which has faced many challenges in recent years in rebuilding football in Iraq and giving Iraqi youth hope for a peaceful future.

“We in Jordan and West Asia are always ready to assist our Iraqi brothers in any way possible.”

Prince Ali is president of both the Jordan FA and the West Asian Football Federation.

The bomb blast was the latest of a wave of attacks raising fears of a return to widespread sectarian violence. More than 140 people have been killed in June in bombings targeting mainly Shi’ite pilgrims and shrines.

In Hilla, the bomb attached to a minibus exploded near a field where two youth teams had just finished a game, said police and hospital sources. The dead and injured soccer players and fans were aged between 15 and 20, said Abdul Amir al-Jibouri, a media manager for the health department in Babil province. More than 30 others were injured.

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