PM Abidi convoy pelted with stones, bottles by residents
Baghdad—Over 126 people were killed and 200 wounded in two bombings in Baghdad on Saturday night , most of them in a busy shopping area in central Baghdad as residents celebrated Ramazan, police and medical sources said Sunday.
The attack is the deadliest since U.S.-backed Iraqi forces last month scored a major victory when it dislodged Islamic State from their stronghold of Falluja, an hour’s drive west of the capital.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had ordered the offensive after a series of deadly bombings in Baghdad, saying Falluja served as a launchpad for such attacks on the capital. However, bombings have continued.
A convoy carrying Abadi who had come to tour the site of the bombings was pelted with stones and bottles by residents, angry at what they felt were false promises of better security.
A refrigerator truck packed with explosives blew up in the central district of Karrada, killing 120 people and injuring at least 200. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement circulated online by supporters of the ultra-hard line Sunni group. It said the blast was a suicide bombing.
Karrada was busy at the time as Iraqis eat out and shop late during the fasting month of Ramazan, which ends next week with the Eid al-Fitr festival. Videos posted on social media showed people running after the SUV convoy of Abadi as he departed Karrada after touring the scene, throwing pavement stones, bottles of water, empty buckets and slippers, venting their anger at the inability of the security forces to protect the area.
Another video posted on social media showed a large blaze in the main street of Karrada, a largely Shi’ite district with a small Christian community and a few Sunni mosques.
At least four buildings severely damaged or partly collapsed, including a shopping mall believed to be the target, and gutted cars scattered all around. The toll climbed during the day as rescuers pulled out more bodies from under the rubble and people succumbed from their injuries.
In a second attack, a roadside explosive device also blew up around midnight in a market in al-Shaab, a Shi’ite district in the north of the capital, killing at least six people, police and medical sources said. Iraqi forces on June 26 declared the defeat of IS militants in Falluja, a historic bastion of insurgency, following a month of fighting.
Now the militants were “trying to compensate for their humiliating defeat in Falluja,” said Jasim al-Bahadli, a former army officer and security analyst in Baghdad.—Reuter