At Least 120 Dead After ISIS Car-Bomb Attack on Baghdad Shopping District

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Workers carry away a victim's body at the scene of the blast.Photo: SABAH ARAR/This content is subject to copyright.

At least 120 people are dead and hundreds more injured after a massive car bomb struck a crowded shopping district in central Baghdad on Saturday night, both ripping apart and setting fire to an entire city block. Al Jazeera reports that the ISIS-claimed suicide bombing occurred in the city’s middle-class Karrada neighborhood just after midnight as many had gathered in the area after sunset to break their fast and celebrate one of the final nights of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It is the deadliest bombing in Iraq so far this year, and the third major terrorist attack in a Muslim country that has been attributed to the group in less than a week.

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The powerful bombing and resulting fires decimated nearly an entire city block.Photo: SABAH ARAR/This content is subject to copyright.

The death toll is also still expected to rise, as many victims are believed to have been buried by rubble due to the blast and resulting fires, which continued to burn overnight into Sunday morning. In addition, many of the at least 200 people injured in the attack remain hospitalized in critical condition with severe burns. The Associated Press reports that many of those killed were apparently inside a multistory shopping and amusement center that was nearly demolished when the car bomb, a pickup truck loaded with explosives, was detonated.

In their statement claiming responsibility for the bombing, the Islamist militant group said they were targeting Shia Muslims, but as the New York Times notes, Karrada is also a mixed neighborhood. Many of the victims were families, and at least 25 of the dead were children, according to some reports.

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Iraqis grieve over the bodies of five family members killed in the blast.Photo: HAIDAR HAMDANI/This content is subject to copyright.

The attack comes a week after Iraqi forces, backed by the U.S., were able to recapture the city of Fallujah from ISIS. Coming after other major attacks in Bangladesh and Istanbul over the past week, the Baghdad attack demonstrates — likely by design — that ISIS continues to be able to cause mass death and destruction far from the shrinking battlefield it controls in Syria and Iraq, and officials in Iraq fear the group will increasingly resort to such tactics as its territory wanes. As a result, Baghdad residents have already been angry over what they feel is inadequate security outside of the city’s heavily fortified Green Zone. On Sunday, Karrada residents shouted and threw rocks at Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi’s convoy as he toured the scene of the blast.

A second bombing also struck the a city market on Sunday morning in the Shia neighborhood of al-Shaab, killing at least 5 and injuring at least 16, though no one has claimed responsibility for that attack yet.

It’s worth remembering, following attacks like these in Baghdad, that for all the legitimate concern over ISIS in the West, particularly after large-scale, ISIS-linked attacks in multiple Western countries over the past year, the fact remains that the vast majority of victims killed and maimed by the militant group continue to be Muslims in Muslim-majority countries.