Dozens killed in wave of attacks in Baghdad Shiite neighbourhoods
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A wave of bombings struck outdoor markets in Shiite-dominated neighborhoods of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 48 people and wounding dozens more in the latest series of deadly attacks that have hit the Iraqi capital this year, officials said.
In an online statement, the Sunni terrorist Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the deadliest bombing of the day, which took place in Baghdad’s northeastern Shaab neighborhood, where at least 24 people were killed.
In that attack, a roadside bomb first exploded outside the concrete blast walls surrounding the open-air market, followed by another blast as people gathered to help the victims of the first explosion. Interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan said the second attack was carried out by a female suicide bomber, but the IS group statement claimed it was carried out by a man who threw hand grenades and detonated a suicide belt.
The IS group statement, which was posted on a militant website commonly used by extremists and could not immediately be verified by independent sources, said the attack was carried out by an Iraqi who targeted members of Shiite militias.
Shortly afterward, a parked car bomb struck a fruit-and-vegetable market in the Shiite-dominated neighborhood of Dora, in southern Baghdad.
In Baghdad’s eastern Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, a suicide car bomber then hit a crowded outdoor market.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for neither the Dora and Sadr City attacks.
Commercial and public places in Shiite-dominated areas are among the most frequent targets for the Sunni militants seeking to undermine the Iraqi government efforts to maintain security inside the capital. Since its blitz in the summer of 2014, the IS group has controlled significant areas in northern and western Iraq, including the country’s second-largest city of Mosul.
Although security has improved somewhat in Baghdad in recent years, attacks claimed by the IS group in and around the city last week killed more than 100 people, sparking anger in the streets over the government’s failure to ensure security.
There are fears that Baghdad could relapse into the bloodletting of a decade ago when sectarian-motivated suicide bombings killed scores of people every week.
That has cranked up pressure on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to resolve a political crisis or risk losing control of parts of Baghdad even as the military wages a counter-offensive against the IS group in Iraq’s north and west with the help of a US-led coalition.
Abadi has said the crisis, sparked by his attempt to reshuffle the cabinet in an anti-corruption bid, is hampering the fight against the IS group and creating space for more insurgent attacks on the civilian population.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP, REUTERS)