Baghdad was rocked by two explosions ahead of the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. “Islamic State” jihadists have claimed responsibility for one of the attacks.
The first explosion took place in the Karrada shopping area, killing at least 18 people according to the Associated Press. An interior ministry spokesman said the assailant had planted a car bomb near a restaurant in the area. At least 45 other were wounded. A video posted on social media showed a large blaze in main street of Karrada after the blast.
The attack came as people gathered to shop ahead of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. The self-styled “Islamic State” (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack in the Karada district, saying it had targeted a local gathering of Shiites, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.
Shortly after the attack, an improvised explosive device went off in the northeastern Baghdad district of al-Shaab, killing at least 5 people and wounding 16. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the second bombing.
The battle against IS
The Baghdad attacks come a week after Iraqi forces declared the neighboring city of Fallujah “fully liberated” from IS. But despite the government’s recent victories against IS, the jihadist group has repeatedly managed to launch attacks far from the front-lines.
IS also continues to control Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul, where an offensive against the movement is expected to be mounted later in the year. The group is estimated to control 14 percent of Iraqi territory, according to the office of Iraq’s prime minister.
ss/bw (AP, AFP, Reuters)