Iraqi PM vows ‘just punishment’ to families of Baghdad bombing victims

The government announced a new military operation to take down ISIS after the attack

Iraqi PM Mustafa Al Kadhimi meets with families of victims of the Baghdad bombings. Courtesy Iraqi Prime Minister's Office
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Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi vowed “just punishment” to families of victims of the Baghdad double suicide attack that shook the capital.

The January 21 attacks were the biggest Baghdad has experienced in three years. They killed at least 32 people and wounded hundreds more late last month.

“We will get revenge on those who have been involved in spilling the blood of Iraqis," he told families who lost loved ones, adding the blood of Iraqis is "precious".

"I am a father and a brother to all those who fell without guilt in the streets of Baghdad, and my humanitarian and moral duty requires the search for just retribution,” he said.

The suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowd of shoppers at a second-hand clothes market in Tayaran Square. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

Suicide bombings have become increasingly rare since the government announced victory over ISIS at the end of 2017.

“The state is the guardian of your blood and blood of all Iraqis, and we must all build a strong, free and capable Iraqi state,” Mr Al Kadhimi said.

Despite the government's military defeat over the insurgents, the UN estimated last year that more than 10,000 ISIS fighters remain in Iraq and Syria.

Extremist sleeper cells continue to operate a low level insurgency in rural areas, targeting security forces.

The first bomber in the Baghdad attack went into the market towards a crowd of people claiming to feel ill before blowing himself up, according to an interior ministry statement.

The second bomber blew himself up as others came to help the victims, said the statement.

Following the attack the government announced a new military operation to take down the extremists, in which a senior leader of ISIS operations in Iraq was killed.

Abu Yaser Al Issawi was an ISIS commander who had claimed to be the leader of the group in Iraq and its "deputy caliph".

"We promised and fulfilled," Mr Al Kadhimi said.

A few days ago an American airstrikes in a joint mission with Iraqi forces killed another ISIS leader.

The ISIS commander, Jabbar Salman Ali Farhan Al Issawi, 43, known as Abu Yasser, was killed near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, American-led military coalition and Iraqi officials said Friday.