Baghdad has been hit hard by an ISIS claimed attack. At least 115 have been counted dead.
A devastating truck bombing on a bustling commercial street in downtown Baghdad killed 115 people early Sunday, brutally underscoring the Islamic State group’s ability to strike the capital despite a string of battlefield losses elsewhere in the country.
It was the deadliest terror attack in Iraq in a year and one of the worst single bombings in more than a decade of war and insurgency, and it fueled anger toward Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
When al-Abadi visited the site of the suicide blast in the city’s Karada district, a furious mob surrounded his convoy, yelling expletives, hurling rocks and shoes and calling him a “thief.”
Many Iraqis blame their political leadership for lapses in security in Baghdad that have allowed large amounts of explosives to make their way past multiple checkpoints and into neighborhoods packed with civilians.
Karada, a mostly Shiite section, is lined with clothing and jewelry stores, restaurants and cafes. The blast struck during the holy month of Ramadan, with the streets and sidewalks filled with young people and families after they had broken their daylight fast.
Eleven people were missing and 187 were wounded, authorities said. Many of the victims were women and children who were inside a multi-story shopping and amusement mall. Dozens burned to death or suffocated, a police officer said.
IS swiftly claimed responsibility in a statement posted online, saying the organization had targeted Shiites. The Associated Press could not verify the authenticity of the statement, but it was posted on a militant website commonly used by the extremists.
A second bombing early Sunday on another busy commercial street in a Shiite-dominated neighborhood, this one in east Baghdad, killed five people and wounded 16, authorities said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Hospital and police officials provided the death tolls and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Iraqi forces, supported by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, have secured a string of victories against IS over the past year and a half, retaking the cities of Tikrit, Ramadi and Fallujah, which was declared fully liberated from the extremist group just over a week ago.
But IS has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to carry out large-scale operations in territory removed from the front-line fighting.
Iraqi officials have repeatedly linked the operation to retake Fallujah to improving security in and around Baghdad, citing the large numbers of bomb factories uncovered in Fallujah, less than an hour drive west of the capital.
However, within Baghdad, security forces that screen for explosives at the ubiquitous checkpoints in and around the city often rely on electronic wands that have been repeatedly discredited.