A heroic Iraqi police officer, Ayyub Khalaf, gave his own life on Wednesday as he threw his arms around a suicide bomber moments before detonation in the middle of a procession of Iraqi pilgrims.
The 34-year-old policeman’s sacrifice almost certainly helped keep the death toll down to five, with 10 wounded, Agence France-Presse reports.
“Ayyub was martyred while defending pilgrims,” said his friend Saad Naim. “His name will be an eternal symbol because he saved the lives of dozens of innocents.”
The attack, which took place in Khales, northeast of Baghdad, is the latest in a string of strikes against Shi‘ite pilgrims. Violence in Iraq has hit a level this year not experienced since 2008.
Khalaf is survived by a wife and two children, 6 and 9 years old.