Iraq opens investigation into deadly Sadr City explosion

The United Nations condemn attack and urge officials to bring perpetrators to justice

Mourners carry the coffin of a victim killed in a crowded market in Sadr City, Iraq. Reuters
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Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi has ordered an immediate investigation into a bombing that killed at least 35 people and injured dozens in southern Baghdad.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a crowded market in the Sadr City neighbourhood of Baghdad late on Monday, on the eve of Eid Al Adha.

“The prime minister has directed to hold any commander or officer proven to have failed to perform his duty to account,” the premier’s office said.

Those held to account will be “referred to the competent court", it added.

“Security forces must be the ‘eye that never sleeps’ to ensure the public’s security and safety."

ISIS said one of its members detonated an explosive vest in the market, in one of the deadliest attacks in months.

A policeman stands guard outside Abu Hanifa Mosque in Baghdad

Medical sources said at least eight women and seven children were among the dead and shops around the market were set on fire.

“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 2017, Iraq’s government declared victory against the group, yet sleeper cells across the country continue to hold low-level attacks.

In April, a bomb attack killed four people at another market in Sadr City. ISIS said it was responsible.

The United Nations and diplomatic officials in Iraq condemned the attack and urged officials to bring the perpetrators to justice.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the attack is “a reminder that the scourge of terrorism knows no bounds”.

“The Secretary General underlines the need for the perpetrators of this crime to be swiftly brought to justice,” said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for Mr Guterres.

Martin Huth, the European Union’s ambassador to Iraq, described ISIS as a “barbaric organisation” that must be defeated.

“Once again, a number of innocent Iraqis were killed and wounded at the dawn of the blessed Eid Al Adha. Condolences to the families of the victims and to the Iraqi people,” Mr Huth said.

The UK’s Minister of Middle East Affairs, James Cleverly, said he was “appalled” by the attack.

“My condolences to the families of the victims of abuse. The United Kingdom stands by Iraq in the fight against terrorism,” Mr Cleverly said.

The Canadian Foreign Ministry said it “strongly” condemned the senseless attack on Sadr City.

“Our sincere condolences go to the loved ones of the victims, who include women and children, and we wish a speedy recovery for those injured,” the ministry said.

“The perpetrators must be held accountable.”

The city where the explosion took place is named after Shiite cleric Mohammed Al Sadr. His son, Moqtada Al Sadr, a populist cleric with millions of followers, is a vital player in the country’s politics.

He has protested against the US and Iran meddling in Iraq’s internal affairs.

Updated: July 20, 2021, 3:56 PM