Baghdad Bombing Death Toll Exceeds 150

Baghdad Bombing Death Toll Exceeds 150
Baghdad Bombing Death Toll Exceeds 150

The Iraqi government has declared three days of national mourning after a huge bomb in the capital Baghdad.

The death toll from a double bomb attack in Baghdad has risen to over 150, fueling calls for security forces to crack down on the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group’s sleeper cells blamed for one of the worst-ever bombings in Iraq.

Numbers rose as bodies were recovered from the rubble and people succumbed to their injuries, the officials added. The toll in Karrada stood at 151 killed and 200 wounded by midday on Monday, according to police and medical sources. Rescuers and families were still looking for 35 missing people, Reuters reported.

A lorry packed with explosives was detonated in the Karrada district while families were shopping for the holiday marking the end of Ramadan. Rescuers said whole families had been wiped out and many victims were burned beyond recognition. IS has said it carried out the suicide attack.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the mainly Shia area on Sunday but his convoy was greeted by angry crowds. His office later announced the three days of mourning, adding that Abadi understood the angry reaction of residents, BBC said.

As night fell on Sunday, teams of workers were still clearing debris from the site and searching the charred remnants of buildings.

The bombing at around midnight on Saturday was the deadliest in Iraq this year and came a week after Iraqi forces recaptured the city of Fallujah from IS.

Reports said a refrigerator van had been packed with explosives and left near the popular al-Hadi Center. Footage from the scene in the minutes after the blast showed the whole area engulfed in flames.

“We need a number of days to be able to recover the bodies of victims. It is a difficult task,” a member of the civil defense forces quoted by AFP said.

“The lists of victims I saw included whole families—the father and his sons, the mother and her daughters—whole families were wiped out by this explosion.”

A second bomb exploded shortly afterwards in another predominantly Shia area north of the capital, killing another five people.

IS, which follows its own extreme version of Sunni Islam, said in an online statement that the attack in Karrada was carried out by an Iraqi as part of “ongoing security operations”.

Later on Sunday, Abadi also announced increased security measures, including the scrapping of “magic wand” fake bomb detectors that are still being used at checkpoints in Iraq despite being exposed as a scam several years ago.

He also ordered that improved vehicle inspection systems be installed at entry points into Baghdad and in other provinces.