Baghdad bombing – 35 people killed and dozens wounded in market attack on eve of the Eid al-Adha festival
THIRTY-FIVE people have been killed and dozens inured in a horrific Baghdad bombing on the eve of the Eid al-Adha festival.
An explosion ripped through a busy market in the Iraqi capital on Monday in an apparent suicide bombing ahead of Eid holiday celebrations, said medical sources.
Body parts of victims were strewn across the previously bustling market that had been crowded with shoppers buying food ahead of the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, said a shocked photographer.
The blast was so strong that it tore the roofs off some market stalls.
Refrigerators full of water bottles were horrifically drenched with blood, and shoes were strewn on the ground alongside fruit.
Eight women and seven children were among the dead, according to medical sources, who estimated that the toll lay between 28 and 30 killed.
Some 50 people were also wounded in the blast, medics said.
It was one of the worst attacks in Baghdad in recent years.
"A terror attack using a locally-made IED (improvised explosive device) in Woheilat Market in Sadr City, in east Baghdad, left several victims dead and others injured," Iraq's interior ministry said in a statement.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but two security sources suggested that it was caused by a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt.
It's a sad Eid night in Iraq.
Video footage shared on social media after the blast showed bloodied victims and people screaming in terror.
Iraqi President Barham Salih slammed the bombing in the densely populated majority-Shiite suburb of Sadr City as a "heinous crime".
He offered his condolences to the victims' families.
"They are targeting our civilians in Sadr City on the eve of Eid," Salih said in a message on Twitter.
He added: "They do not allow people to rejoice, even for a moment."
"It's a sad Eid night in Iraq," the International Committee of the Red Cross said.
It added: "Our deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to those who lost their loved ones."
Baghdad Operations Command, a joint military and interior ministry security body, said it had launched an investigation into the blast.
Meanwhile, police and forensic teams spent late Monday searching through the smoking wreckage for clues.
ISIS TERROR ATTACK?
ISIS has already claimed responsibility for the brutal attack, said reporter Wassim Nasr on Twitter.
But this boast has not been confirmed by authorities.
In January, the terror group claimed responsibility for a rare twin suicide bombing that killed 32 people – also at a crowded market in Baghdad.
That blast was the city's deadliest attack in three years.
Such violence was commonplace in Baghdad during the sectarian bloodletting that followed the US-led invasion of 2003, and later on as ISIS swept across much of Iraq and also targeted the capital.
But after years of deadly violence, militant attacks have become relatively rare in the capital Baghdad.
Today's bloody attack sparked a furious response from Iraqis on social media.
"Terrorism and the government's failure keep on stealing our lives," tweeted Alaa Sattar, a youth activist.
Sattar added: "The authorities have nothing but condolences to dole out and empty investigative committees."
Another Twitter user wrote "every Eid, there's a tragedy in Baghdad. It's impossible to celebrate like the rest of humanity".
Iraq declared the terror group was defeated at the end of 2017, after a fierce and bloody three-year campaign.
But the evil group's sleeper cells have continued to operate in desert and mountain areas.
Its brutal thugs typically target security forces or state infrastructure with low casualty attacks.
The US-led coalition that had been supporting Iraq's campaign against ISIS has significantly drawn down its troop levels over the past year, citing the increased capabilities of Iraqi forces.
The US, which provides the bulk of the force, has 2,500 troops left in Iraq – well down from 5,200 a year ago.
They are mainly in charge of training, providing drone surveillance and carrying out air strikes, while Iraqi security forces handle security in urban areas.
Sadr City, where Monday's bomb blast took place, is named after revered Shiite cleric Mohammed al-Sadr.
His son, Moqtada Sadr – a firebrand cleric with millions of followers and in command of paramilitary groups – is a crucial player in Iraqi politics.
He has often protested against the influence of both the US and Iran.
The boycott by Sadr of upcoming elections slated for October is a blow to Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi, who had called the early vote in response to demands by pro-democracy activists.
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