ISIS blasts kill dozens at family gatherings in Iraq
The details are eerily familiar: a family outing, a suicide bomber, more than a dozen people — many of them children — killed in an attack later claimed by the Islamic State.
An explosion early Tuesday at an icecream parlor in Baghdad shared many of the same heart-wrenching characteristics as last week’s attack at a stadium in Manchester, England. And that was just the start of the violence Tuesday, in a city where these kinds of terrorist attacks have been notably more frequent this year.
First, the Islamic State targeted the popular Al Faqma shop in the central Karrada neighborhood, where families had gathered to celebrate iftar and break their daylong fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
On most nights during Ramadan, when temperatures can top 100 degrees, whole families can be found under the shop’s water-misting fans, eating ice cream from wafer cups.
That nightly respite was abruptly ended Tuesday, just after midnight, when Islamic State militants remotely detonated a car rigged with explosives and parked near the shop, Iraqi authorities told reporters. Closedcircuit video captured the moment an enormous fireball erupted along a busy thoroughfare.
The bombing killed 17 people and left 32 others wounded, according to the authorities. Of the victims, three were children, ages 4, 6 and 8.
“We were expecting to be targeted soon or later because Karrada had been the favorite area for terrorists to implement their attacks,” said Mustafa Aljibour, the shop’s manager. “This ice cream shop has been a place for all Iraqis no matter where they are from. It was turned from a very beautiful place into a dark hell after the attack.”
Videos posted to social media after the attack show a scene of chaos, with bodies strewn across the shop’s colorful benches. In one, a little girl walks seemingly dazed through the carnage.
Hours later, the Islamic State, often referred to as ISIS, struck again at the heart of Baghdad — this time during evening rush Tuesday, as people were finishing their shopping before the iftar feasting. Fourteen people were killed and 34 were wounded when a bomb went off outside a government pension office.
Photos taken after the attack show the charred wreckage of burnedout automobiles and a watermelon seller’s destroyed goods.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks in two separate posts to a social media channel the group typically uses. Even as the group has lost territory in Iraq, it has increased the intensity of its strikes, often against Shiite civilians. Tuesday, the group confirmed it had chosen its latest targets because they were known gathering places for Shiites.
Later Tuesday, as word spread of four more attacks throughout the country, mourners, many of them women, were seen at the sites of the two Baghdad attacks.