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91 Killed, Scores Wounded in 2 Baghdad Bombings

91 Killed, Scores Wounded in 2 Baghdad Bombings91 Killed, Scores Wounded in 2 Baghdad Bombings

At least 91 people were killed Sunday in two bombings in the Iraqi capital, including a large-scale attack claimed by the Islamic State group that killed 86 people - among them 15 children - in a central shopping district, officials said.

The bombings demonstrated the extremists' ability to mount significant attacks despite major battlefield losses, including the city of Fallujah, which was declared "fully liberated" from IS just over a week ago, AP reported.

The deadliest attack took place in the central Karada district of Baghdad, where a suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laded pickup truck outside a crowded shopping center, killing at least 86 people and wounding up to 170 others, according to a police officer. He said the dead included 15 children, 10 women and six policemen.

The suicide bomber struck shortly after midnight, when families and young people were out on the streets after breaking their daylight fast for the holy month of Ramadan. Most of the victims were inside a multi-story shopping and amusement mall, where dozens burned to death or suffocated, officials said.

Within hours, IS claimed responsibility for the bombing in a statement posted online, saying they had deliberately targeted Shiite Muslims. The Associated Press could not verify the authenticity of the statement, but it was posted on a militant website commonly used by the extremists.

At the scene, firefighters and civilians were seen carrying the dead away, their bodies wrapped in blankets and sheets. Smoke billowed from the shopping center, which was surrounded by the twisted and burned wreckage of cars and market stalls. A group of women were sitting on the pavement, crying for their loved ones.

In the second attack, an improvised explosive device went off in Baghdad's northern Shaab area, killing 5 people and wounding 16, another police officer said. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bore the hallmarks of IS militants who often target commercial districts and Shiite areas.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to release information to the press.

The high death toll made it the second deadliest attack in the capital this year. On May 11, IS militants carried out three car bombings in Baghdad, killing 93 people.

Hours after the bombing, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and lawmakers visited the blast site. Video footage uploaded to social media showed an angry crowd, with people calling al-Abadi a "thief" and shouting at his convoy. Eyewitness said the crowd pelted the al-Abadi's car with rocks, shoes and jerry cans.

The UN envoy for Iraq, Jan Kubis, described the Karada attack as "a cowardly and heinous act of unparalleled proportions" and urged the Iraqi government to redouble its security efforts to protect Iraqis during celebrations for the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan.

IS militants who "have suffered defeats at the battlefront are seeking to avenge their losses by targeting vulnerable civilians," Kubis added.

IS still controls Iraq's second largest city of Mosul as well as significant patches of territory in the country's north and west.

Financialtribune.com