BAGHDAD: A suicide car bombing claimed by the Islamic State group ripped through a busy Baghdad shopping district Sunday, killing at least 119 people in the deadliest attack this year in Iraq´s capital.
The blast hit the Karrada district early in the day as the area was packed with shoppers ahead of this week´s holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
It came a week after Iraqi security forces recaptured Fallujah from IS, leaving Mosul as the only Iraqi city under the jihadist group´s control.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered changes to Baghdad security measures in response to the bombing, which security officials said also wounded more than 180 people.
Abadi visited the site of the attack and vowed “punishment” for the perpetrators, according to his office, which later announced three days of mourning for the victims.
The blast set buildings ablaze, and firemen were still working to extinguish them some 12 hours later.
Men carried the bodies of two victims out of one burned building and a crowd of people looked on from the rubble-filled street as emergency personnel worked at the site.
A member of the civil defence forces said that it would take “a number of days” to recover the bodies of the victims.
Hussein Ali, a 24-year-old former soldier, said six workers at his family´s shop were killed, their bodies so badly burned they could not be identified.
“I will return to the battlefront. At least there, I know the enemy so I can fight him. But here, I don´t know who I´m fighting,” Ali told AFP.
Anti-government fighters seized Fallujah in early 2014 and it later became one of IS´s main strongholds in the country.
IS´s defeat there was compounded by a devastating series of air strikes targeting jihadist forces as they sought to flee the Fallujah area.
Iraqi and US-led coalition aircraft destroyed hundreds of IS vehicles and killed dozens of fighters in two days of strikes against jihadist convoys after the end of the Fallujah battle, officials said.
With Fallujah retaken, Iraqi forces are now setting their sights on second city Mosul, the last major population centre held by IS in Iraq.
Courtesy : TheNews