Multiple car bombs kill civilians in Baghdad

Dozens of angry people gathering at the scene of the worst attack yesterday. A pick-up truck packed with explosives went off near a beauty salon in a bustling market in the Sadr City area.
Dozens of angry people gathering at the scene of the worst attack yesterday. A pick-up truck packed with explosives went off near a beauty salon in a bustling market in the Sadr City area.PHOTO: REUTERS

Worst attack in market leaves 66 dead, 22 killed in two other neighbourhoods

BAGHDAD • A car bombing claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group in a Shi'ite Muslim district of Baghdad killed at least 66 people and wounded 87 yesterday, Iraqi police and hospital sources said, the largest attack inside the city in months.

In two other incidents in separate Baghdad neighbourhoods, car bombs targeting civilians killed at least another 22 people yesterday, a police source said.

In the worst attack, a pick- up truck packed with explosives went off near a beauty salon in a bustling market in the Sadr City area at rush hour. Many of the victims were women, including several brides who appeared to be getting ready for their weddings, the sources said.

The bodies of two men said to be grooms were found in an adjacent barber shop. Wigs, shoes and children's toys were scattered on the ground outside. At least two cars were destroyed in the explosion.

Rescue workers stepped through puddles of blood to put out fires and remove victims. Smoke was still rising from several shops hours after the explosion as a bulldozer cleared the burnt-out chassis of the vehicle used in the blast.

ISIS said in a statement circulated online by supporters that it had targeted Shi'ite militia fighters gathered in the area.

Dozens of angry people gathered at the scene of the bombing, blaming the government for the carnage.

"The state is in a conflict over (government positions) and the people are the victims," said a man named Mr Abu Ali, adding: "The politicians are behind the explosion."

Resident Abu Muntadhar echoed his anger. "The state is responsible for the bombings that hit civilians," he said. The politicians "should all get out".

Security has gradually improved in the Iraqi capital, which was the target of daily bombings a decade ago, but violence directed against the security forces and Shi'ite civilians is still frequent. Large blasts sometimes set off reprisal attacks against the minority Sunni community.

The fight against ISIS, which seized about a third of Iraq's territory in 2014, has exacerbated a long-running sectarian conflict in Iraq mostly between Sunnis and the Shi'ite majority that emerged after the US-led invasion in 2003.

Such violence threatens to undermine US-backed efforts to dislodge the militant group.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2016, with the headline 'Multiple car bombs kill civilians in Baghdad'. Print Edition | Subscribe