Iraq Suicide Bomb Attack kills more than 200

Since 2003, this is the Deadliest Attack In a Year

Iraq Sees Deadliest Attack In a Year

The number of people killed in Sunday’s Iraq suicide bomb attack in the capital city, Baghdad, has risen to more than 200, interior ministry officials say.

The powerful explosion early on Sunday came near the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when the streets were filled with young people and families out after sunset.

The death toll from the blast in Karada, a predominantly Shia neighbourhood in central Baghdad, rose to over 200 on Monday morning, as the bodies of more victims were pulled from the rubble.

The government has declared three days of mourning after the huge blast, which also injured 225 people.

Iraq Suicide Bomb Attack

It is believed to be the deadliest single bomb attack in Iraq since 2007.

Rescuers said whole families had been killed. Many people were badly burned.

So-called Islamic State (IS) has said it carried out the suicide attack.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was greeted by angry crowds when he visited the mainly Shia Muslim area in the hours after the bombing.

Iraqi politician Mowaffak Baqer al-Rubaie said ISIL was ‘resorting to classic, traditional terrorist acts’ in response to losing territory in Iraq [Reuters]

His office said Mr Abadi understood the reaction of residents and would increase security by banning “magic wand” fake bomb detectors and improving vehicle inspections at roads into the city.

The fake bomb detectors, some based on cheap devices for finding golf balls, were sold in large numbers to Iraq by fraudsters.

One British businessman, who was jailed for 10 years, sold more than 6,000 devices to Iraq for up to $40,000 (£30,000) each.

The UK banned their export to Iraq in 2010 and several other fraudsters received prison sentences. Despite warnings that the devices were useless, the Iraqi security forces continued to use them.

Engulfed in flames

Men continued to dig through rubble at the Karrada site on Monday, searching for the remains of those still missing.

Black banners were hung from nearby buildings bearing the names of victims and detailing their funerals.

In a statement on the attack, the Iraqi justice ministry said (in Arabic) that a group of prisoners convicted of terrorist crimes would be put to death in the immediate future.

The bombing at around midnight on Saturday came a week after Iraqi forcesrecaptured the city of Falluja from IS.

Reports said a refrigerator van had been packed with explosives and left near the popular Hadi Center.

Footage from the minutes just after the blast showed the whole area engulfed in flames.

Building burned out by Karrada blast
Some buildings were damaged beyond repair by the flames
Building hit by Karrada bomb blast
Image captionThe Hadi Center, which used to be full of busy clothes shops and cafes, was gutted

“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 defence forces quoted by AFP news agency 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.

The self-styled 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”.

The US said on Sunday that the attack strengthened its resolve to support Iraqi forces in their fight against IS.

UN Iraq envoy Jan Kubis said IS militants who had “suffered defeats at the battlefront are seeking to avenge their losses by targeting vulnerable civilians”.