Baghdad: A twin suicide bombing took the lives of 32 people and wounded 110 at a congested market in central Baghdad on Thursday the city’s most dangerous attack in three years. The first assailant attracted a crowd at the bustling market in the capital’s Tayaran Square by pretending to feel sick, then blasted his explosives belt, the interior ministry said. As more people then gathered to the scene to assist the sufferers, a second suicide bomber set off his explosives.
The open-air market, where second-hand clothes are traded at stalls, had been growing with people after the lifting of almost a year of Covid-19 constraints beyond the country. An AFP photographer at the scene stated security forces had cordoned off the area, where blood-soaked clothes were scattered across the muddy streets and paramedics were hurrying to take away the dead. The health ministry said those who lost their lives had died on the scene of the attack, and that most of the injured had been administered and released from the hospital.
The attack was the most ferocious in Baghdad since January 2018, when a suicide bomber shot more than 30 people in the same square. The attack was not instantly professed but suicide bombings have been practiced by jihadist groups, most latterly the Islamic State group. They were commonplace in Baghdad during the limited bloodletting that followed the US-led attack of 2003 and later on as the IS cleared across much of Iraq and also aimed the capital. But with the group’s territorial defeat in late 2017, suicide bombings in the city became rare. Baghdad’s wicked concrete blast walls were demolished and checkpoints over the city were removed. President Barham Saleh led political figures in denouncing Thursday’s attack, saying the government would “stand firmly against these rogue endeavors to destabilize our nation”.Pope Francis, who hopes to visit Iraq in March, bemoaned the “senseless act of brutality”.
The United States, the United Nations, and the European Union strongly denounced the attack.US acting secretary of state Daniel Smith said the bombings “were vicious acts of mass murder and a sobering reminder of the terrorism that continues to threaten the lives of innocent Iraqis”.UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres circulated an application” to the people of Iraq to reject any attempts to spread fear and violence aimed at undermining peace, stability, and unity.”
The EU described the attack as “senseless and barbaric” and reemphasized its “full support to the Iraqi authorities in the battle against extremism and terrorism.”The UN’s Iraq mission extended comforts to the victims and said: “Such a despicable act will not weaken Iraq’s movement towards stability and prosperity.”Iran also denounced the attack, with foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh saying his government was set to support Iraq “in the struggle against terrorism and extremism”.
The attack was intended “to disturb the peace and balance of Iraq and to give a pretense for foreigners to keep their presence there”.The attack appears as Iraqis plan for an election, events often prefaced by bombings and killings. The 2018 attack took place just a few months before Iraq’s final round of parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi had formerly placed this year’s general election for June, nearly a year before schedule, in reply to extensive protests in 2019.
But officials are in discussions over rescheduling them to October, to provide electoral experts more time to record voters and new parties. The IS grabbed a third of Iraq in 2014 and was dangerously adjacent to the capital, but a brutal three-year fight by Iraqi troops drove them back. The group’s sleeper cells have proceeded to work in desert and mountain areas, typically aiming at security forces or state infrastructure with low dead attacks.
However, the US-led alliance that had been assisting Iraq’s operations against IS has significantly brought down its troop levels over the past year, indicating the improved skills of Iraqi troops. The United States, which gives the bulk of the force, has 2,500 troops left in Iraq down from 5,200 a year ago. They are largely in charge of the practice, implementing drone surveillance, and bringing out airstrikes while Iraqi security forces manage security in urban areas.