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PM confident Kiwi troops safe in Iraq

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/06/2016

The Prime Minister is confident Kiwi troops in Iraq are "as safe as you can possibly get" within the war-torn country after a suicide bomb detonated near their base.

An explosion at a checkpoint outside Camp Taji about 6pm NZT on Thursday killed several Iraqi soldiers and civilians but all 106 New Zealand troops were safe.

Kiwi and Australian troops have been training Iraqi forces at the base since mid 2015.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said the blast occurred between two and three kilometres from where New Zealand and Australian troops were accommodated.

Prime Minister John Key told reporters on Friday the troops had a mandate to stay within the confines of Camp Taji.

"You've got an environment which is as safe as you can possibly get."

The road where the blast occurred had long been identified as a dangerous stretch of road, he said.

"We've known always that Taji is a highly dangerous environment and we do the best we can to protect our people by making sure they're within the confines of the Taji base."

He would be "very uncomfortable" if any troops went outside those confines, he said.

The blast was one of two that killed at least 22 and wounded 70 in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Thursday.

The attacks come as Iraqi forces are trying to dislodge Islamic State militants from Fallujah, their stronghold just west of Baghdad.

In the other incident, a car packed with explosive blew up in a commercial street of Baghdad al-Jadeeda, an eastern district of the capital, killing at least 15 people and wounding over 50.

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