Baghdad, July 3 (IANS) At least 130 people, including children and women, were killed in two overnight bombings in Baghdad, most of them in busy areas, as residents shopped ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, police and medical sources said on Sunday.
In the deadliest bombing — the most lethal single attack in Baghdad this year — which hit Karada, a busy shopping district in the centre of Baghdad, 125 shopers were killed and over 100 others wounded, according to police and medics.
The second blast — of an improvised explosive device — in eastern Baghdad left five people dead and 16 others wounded. It was earlier reported that a bobby-trapped car blew up in the area. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Karada street in the mainly Shia area thronged with crowds shopping ahead of the Eid festival.
The blast struck as families and young people were out on the streets after breaking their daylight fast for the holy month of Ramadan, which ends later this week.
The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the bombing in a statement posted online, saying it had deliberately targeted Shia Muslims.
The group considers Iraq’s Shia Muslim majority to be heretics and frequently targets them in attacks in the country. The statement,however, could not be independently verified.
In May, Baghdad was rocked by a series of blasts that killed more than 150 people in seven days.
IS issued a statement claiming the suicide car bombing, saying it was carried out by an Iraqi as part of the group’s “ongoing security operations”.
Hours after the bombing, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the blast site. Video footage uploaded to social media showed an angry crowd, with people calling Abadi a “thief” and shouting at his convoy.
“The terrorist groups carried out such desperate deadly attack as a result of being crushed in the battlefield,” a statement from Abadi’s office said, referring to the latest defeat of the IS in the country’s western province of Anbar.
The Baghdad attacks came just over a week after Iraqi forces declared the city of Falluja “fully liberated” from the group. Over the past year, Iraqi forces have racked up territorial gains against IS, retaking the city of Ramadi and the towns of Hit and Rutba, all in Iraq’s vast Anbar province west of Baghdad.
Before the launch of the operation to retake Falluja, the Iraqi Prime Minister was facing growing social unrest and anti-government protests in Baghdad sparked in part by popular anger at the lack of security in the capital.
In one month, Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and diplomatic missions, was stormed twice by anti-government protestors.
IS still controls Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, as well as significant patches of territory in the country’s north and west.
At the height of the extremist group’s rise to power in 2014, IS snatched nearly a third of the country out of government control. The militants are estimated to control only 14 per cent of Iraqi territory now, according to Abadi’s office.