Truck bomb­ing at Bagh­dad food mar­ket kills 67

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY VI­VIAN SALAMA

A mas­sive truck bomb ripped through a pop­u­lar Bagh­dad food mar­ket in a pre­dom­i­nantly Shi­ite neigh­bor­hood early Thurs­day morn­ing, killing at least 67 peo­ple, po­lice of­fi­cials said.

The Is­lamic State group claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the blast, say­ing it tar­geted a gath­er­ing place of Shi­ites and vowed more at­tacks.

The truck det­o­nated in the Jameela mar­ket in the Iraqi cap­i­tal’s crowded Sadr City neigh­bor­hood shortly af­ter dawn, ac­cord­ing to two lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cers. They also said that at least 152 peo­ple were wounded in the at­tack. The mar­ket is the main cen­ter for pro­duce and food sales in the Iraqi cap­i­tal.

Res­i­dents of the Shi­ite com­mu­nity rushed to help the vic­tims, car­ry­ing corpses in garbage bags and blan­kets, and sent the wounded to lo­cal hos­pi­tals in am­bu­lances or per­sonal cars. The blast in­cin­er­ated much of the mar­ket, leav­ing charred wooden mar­ket stalls and scat­ter­ing fruits and veg­eta­bles far around it.

Fire trucks and am­bu­lances were at the scene and fire men were dous­ing the still-smol­der­ing com­plex with wa­ter long af­ter the ex­plo­sion.

“On Thurs­days the mar­ket is es­pe­cially crowded be­cause peo­ple come from the other prov­inces to stock up on food for the week­end,” one of the of­fi­cers said.

He said the truck that set off the ex­plo­sion was a re­frig­er­a­tion truck, so it was im­pos­si­ble to dis­tin­guish it from other trucks de­liv­er­ing pro­duce to the mar­ket.

A minibus driver, Has­san Hamid, said he driv­ing not far from the area when the force of the ex­plo­sion threw his ve­hi­cle about 10 me­ters (yards) away and onto the side­walk.

“This is the strong­est ex­plo­sion I’ve ever seen in my life,” said the 37-year old fa­ther of three, speak­ing from his hos­pi­tal bed where he was be­ing treated for shrap­nel in­juries. “I saw some cars were thrown into the sky and a fire erupted all over the place.”

Four hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials con­firmed the ca­su­alty fig­ures. All of­fi­cials spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to speak to the media.

In a mes­sage posted on an IS-af- fil­i­ated Twit­ter ac­count, the Is­lamic State said the at­tack was car­ried out by a parked, ex­plo­sives-laden truck. The claim says the Is­lamic State seeks to have the “re­jec­tion­ists (Shi­ites) ex­pe­ri­ence the same harm as their bom­bard­ments cause to our Mus­lim peo­ple.”

The Sunni mil­i­tant group, which roughly holds a third of Iraq and neigh­bor­ing Syria in their self­de­clared “caliphate,” views Shi­ite Mus­lims, as well as other re­li­gious mi­nori­ties, as apos­tates.

It of­ten tar­gets mil­i­tary check­points or pre­dom­i­nantly Shi­ite neigh­bor­hoods such as Sadr City, with the goal of send­ing a mes­sage to the Shi­ite-dom­i­nated gov­ern­ment in Bagh­dad. Com­mer­cial and public ar­eas are also among the mil­i­tants’ fa­vorite tar­gets as they seek to un­der­mine the peo­ple’s con­fi­dence in gov­ern­ment ef­forts to main­tain se­cu­rity.

While near-daily at­tacks are com- mon in the cap­i­tal, death tolls have rarely reached this level for a sin­gle at­tack in Bagh­dad since the height of the coun­try’s bru­tal sec­tar­ian blood­let­ting in 2006 and 2007.

AP / AFP

(Above) An Iraqi woman grieves at the scene of a bomb at­tack in Jameela mar­ket in the Iraqi cap­i­tal’s crowded Sadr City neigh­bor­hood in Bagh­dad, Thurs­day, Aug. 13. (Right) An in­jured horse stands amid de­bris as Iraqi men look at the dam­age fol­low­ing a bomb ex­plo­sion that tar­geted a veg­etable mar­ket in Bagh­dad’s north­ern Shi­ite dis­trict of Sadr City, Thurs­day.

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