At least 80 killed in deadliest wave of suicide bombings across Baghdad this year

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People at the scene of a car-bomb attack in Baghdad’s mainly Shi’ite district of Sadr City in Iraq on Wednesday.
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Wissm al-Okili/Reuters

Three suicide bombings claimed by Islamic State across Baghdad killed at least 80 people on Wednesday, Iraqi police and hospital sources said, in the deadliest attacks in the Iraqi capital this year.

The first bomb was set off inside the Oreba market, one of at least three crowded marketplaces that have been targeted in the area in the past year, according to The Washington Post. At least 19 women and six children are believed to have been killed.

“The market was so crowded,” Haider Salah, a 28-year-old taxi driver who witnessed the attack, told The Washington Post.

“At that time of the morning, the market is filled with women and their children.”

Two more blasts struck at the end of the working day. A suicide bomber stormed a security checkpoint leading into Kadhimiya, a northwestern area housing one of the holiest sites in Shi’ite Islam, killing 17 and wounding more than 30.

Another bomb went off at a checkpoint on a commercial thoroughfare in a predominantly Sunni district of western Baghdad, killing eight and wounding 20.

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Wissm al-Okili/Reuters

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 the Islamic State, the militant group also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh that seized about a third of Iraq’s territory in 2014, has exacerbated a long-running sectarian conflict in Iraq that emerged after the US-led invasion in 2003 mostly between Sunnis and the Shi’ite majority. Such violence threatens to undermine US-backed efforts to dislodge ISIS.

Wednesday’s attacks could also intensify pressure on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to resolve a political crisis that has crippled the government for more than a month. The area is named after the father of the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr led a group of protesters when they breached Baghdad’s Green Zone earlier this month demanding government reform.

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A woman at the scene of the car-bomb attack in Baghdad.
source
Reuters

A pickup truck packed with explosives went off at rush hour near a beauty salon in a bustling market. 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, their parts scattered far from the blast site.

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.

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Wissm al-Okili/Reuters

Islamic State said in a statement circulated online by supporters that a suicide bomber called Abu Ali Ansari had carried out the attack, which targeted Shi’ite militia fighters gathered in the area.

Iraqi forces backed by airstrikes from a nearly two-year-old US-led campaign have driven the group back in the western province of Anbar and are preparing for an offensive to retake the northern city of Mosul. But the militants are still able to strike outside territory they control.

The ultra-hardline Sunni jihadist group, which considers Shi’ites apostates, has claimed recent attacks across the country as well as a twin suicide bombing in Sadr City in February that killed 70 people.

Note: This article originally incorrectly reported that five, instead of three, attacks were carried out.