Two bombs exploded at a busy market in central Baghdad on Saturday killing at least 28 people and wounding more than 50 others, security officials and medics said. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack.
The blasts took place early Saturday morning in al-Sinaq, a busy market selling car accessories, food and clothes as well as agricultural seeds and machinery.
Details were sketchy in the immediate aftermath. An Interior Ministry official initially said that one of the blasts had been triggered by a planted explosive, but police later concluded that both explosions were caused by suicide bombers.
Bomb blast strikes Baghdad market
The IS group later claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement posted by its Aamaq news agency, confirming that the blasts came from a pair of suicide bombers.
An AFP photographer said torn clothes and mangled iron were strewn across the ground in pools of blood at the site of the wreckage near Rasheed street, one of the main thoroughfares in Baghdad.
"Many of the victims were people from the spare parts shops in the area, they were gathered near a cart selling breakfast when the explosions went off," Ibrahim Mohammed Ali, who owns a nearby shop, told the news agency.
IS under pressure
Speaking from Baghdad, Global Radio News correspondent Saif Al-Hiali told FRANCE 24 that “security was heightened significantly” within the city in preparation for the New Year, with key streets on lockdown.
He noted that the attacks had followed the latest offensive against Mosul by Iraqi special forces.
“The military campaign is entering its third month now and the Islamic State group are known to resort to these tactics – attacking areas well outside their territory – whenever they’ve been pressured by advancing forces,” Al-Hiali said.
Baghdad has been on high alert since the start of an offensive to drive the IS group out of the northern city of Mosul, Iraq's largest military operation in years.
The jihadist outift has lost much of the northern and western territory it seized in 2014 and is now resisting the offensive in Mosul, its last major stronghold in Iraq.
It has tried to hit back with major diversionary attacks on other targets across the country but has had little success in Baghdad.
Saturday's twin bombings were the deadliest in the capital since the start of the Mosul offensive.
At least 34 people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a funeral tent in Baghdad's Shaab area on October 15.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2016-12-31