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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 March 2021

Baghdad suicide bombings kill dozens

The explosions occurred at an outdoor market and injured more than 100 civilians

Back-to-back suicide attacks on a market in central Baghdad killed 32 people and injured 110 on Thursday.

The two bombers detonated their explosives at a secondhand clothes market in the Bab Al Sharji area, said Interior Ministry spokesman Brig Gen Khalid Al Muhana. He said many poor people use the outdoor market.

The first bomber claimed to be ill but when people gathered around him, he blew himself up, Brig Gen Al Muhana said. The second bomber set off his explosives when people rushed to the scene.

Health Minister Hassan Al Tamimi confirmed the death toll.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a message posted on the Telegram channel of its Amaq news agency early on Friday.

A camera captured the moment when the second bomb exploded, unleashing a fireball while people were screaming and running.

Video of the aftermath shared on social media showed bodies scattered across bloodstained pavements as ambulances rushed to the scene. Several wounded people were seen being moved in a police vehicle.

Security forces cordoned off the area where charred and twisted stalls were overturned.

Some of the wounded lay on the floor of the nearby Al Kindi Hospital, where medics treated their injuries.

Extremism still exists and [is] waiting for the perfect time to bare teeth

Sunni Sheik Khalid Al Mullah

Politician Abdul-Khaliq Al Azzawi, who sits on the Iraqi Parliament’s security and defence committee, described the bombing as a “terrorist attack carried out by ISIS pockets that are still breathing in the country”.

After a gruelling campaign against ISIS that culminated in the 2017 declaration of victory, the weakened militant group was unable to launch attacks in the capital or other major cities where it had once terrorised the population with roadside bombs and suicide bombers.

But the group’s remnants continue to stage hit-and-run attacks in remote areas, mainly in Iraq’s north and west.

Mr Al Azzawi said the attacks are a “dangerous indication after years of security stability in Baghdad and are a challenge to the security forces”.

He called on authorities to boost intelligence gathering.

“Extremism still exists and is waiting for the perfect time to bare its teeth,” Sunni Sheikh Khalid Al Mullah said in a tweet.

“To be honest, we were busy and didn’t fight the extremism as it should be fought, and without knowing we laid the ground for this,” Mr Al Mullah said.

The attacks came as the country prepares for an election this year, after the social unrest that followed the outbreak of pro-reform protests. On Tuesday, the government approved October 10 as the election date, instead of the previously suggested date of June 6.

Updated: January 26, 2021 08:16 PM

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