Iraq violence: IS bombing kills 125 Ramadan shoppers in Baghdad

At least 125 people have been killed and about 150 injured in an explosion claimed by the Islamic State group in Baghdad, Iraqi police say.

A car bomb exploded on a busy street in the central district of Karrada late on Saturday.

The mainly Shia area was busy with shoppers late at night because it is the holy month of Ramadan.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was met by angry crowds while visiting the scene of the blast on Sunday.

A second bomb also exploded at about midnight in a predominantly Shia area north of the capital, killing another five people.

The bombing in Karrada is the deadliest in Iraq this year.

It comes a week after Iraqi security forces recaptured the city of Falluja from Islamic State (IS) militants. Authorities say the city was used as a launch pad for attacks on Baghdad.


Deadly message from IS: Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor, Baghdad

The destruction and death adds up to a clear message from the jihadists of so-called Islamic State. They are saying that even if they are defeated on the battlefield, they can still hit back where it really hurts – killing civilians in the centre of the Iraqi capital, and other capital cities, too.

IS have just suffered a serious defeat at the hands of Iraqi forces in Falluja. The town, less than an hour’s drive from Baghdad, has been in their hands since early 2014. IS are showing their supporters, and their enemies, that they are not beaten.

So many were killed and wounded because the streets are crowded at night at the end of a day’s fasting during Ramadan, with thousands in a mood to celebrate.

It is only realistic to fear that there will be more attacks like this, as IS comes under more military pressure.

In pictures: Baghdad blast

Islamic State group: The full story


The jhadist group, which follows its own extreme version of Sunni Islam, said in an online statement that it carried out the attack.

Iraq’s highest Sunni religious body, the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, called the bombing a “bloody crime, regardless of who carried it out or what their motivations were”.

Media captionHaider al-Abadi’s convoy was filmed fleeing a group of people throwing stones
Iraqi men carry a coffin in the holy Iraqi city of Najaf on July 3, 2016Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionFunerals are being held for those killed in the attacks
Media captionBaghdad explosion hit a very busy area

There are reports that the source of the blast, which struck close to midnight, was a refrigerator van packed with explosives.

Many of those killed were children, Associated Press reported. Families gathered on the street on Sunday for news of missing loved ones.

The explosion caused a huge fire on the main street. Several buildings, including the popular al-Hadi Centre, were badly damaged.

Iraqis, including firefighters, gather at the site of a suicide car bombing claimed by the Islamic State group on July 3, 2016 in Baghdad's central Karrada districtImage copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionAmong the worst-damaged buildings was the popular al-Hadi Centre
Workers clear up after bomb in Karrada, Baghdad. 3 July 2016
Image captionA huge clear-up operation is under way in Karrada

Mr Abadi visited the scene in the morning, and was met by crowds who shouted “thief” and “dog”. Video posted online appeared to show his convoy being pelted with stones.

The BBC’s Ahmed Maher in Baghdad says many people are angry at the deteriorating security situation and the fact that IS managed to reach the heart of the capital.

IS still controls large swathes of territory in the country’s north and west, including Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.

But the group has been under pressure in Iraq and in neighbouring Syria, where it has been targeted by government forces and US-backed rebels.

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