August 1, 2021

Baghdad market bombing in Iraq kills at least 28 on the eve of Eid

Thirty people were killed and dozens injured on Monday, July 19, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group on a popular market in a Shiite suburb of Baghdad. In a message published hours after the attack on its Telegram channel, ISIS claimed that one of its suicide bombers set off his explosive belt, “Causing 30 dead and 35 wounded”.

This is the second attack claimed by ISIS since the beginning of the year in the Iraqi capital. The explosion occurred late Monday afternoon in one of the popular markets of Sadr City, a huge deprived Shiite neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, where many people flocked to shop on the eve of the most important Muslim holiday, Eid el-Adha or festival of sacrifice.

According to security and medical sources, the toll fluctuates between 28 and 35 dead, including fifteen women and children, and between 30 and 50 injured. Pieces of body, sandals littered the ground in the middle of the devastated stalls, and traces of blood were visible everywhere, noted a photographer of Agence France-Presse.

Ravaged stalls, stunned traders

Iraqis light candles at the scene of an explosion in a market in Sadr City on July 19, 2021.

On the spot, the police and forensic teams questioned witnesses, while residents gathered and lit candles at the scene of the tragedy. A video posted on social networks shows the chaos that reigned a few minutes after the explosion: women and children fleeing screaming, ravaged stalls and stunned traders. The injured were transported to a hospital in Sadr City, and the health ministry has promised to make resources available to help overwhelmed medical teams.

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Iraqi President Barham Saleh denounced on Twitter “A hate crime of unprecedented cruelty”. “They are targeting our civilians in Sadr City on the eve of Eid. They do not accept that people rejoice, even for a moment “, he condemned. “Sad night of Eid in Iraq”, tweeted for its part the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Iraq.

It is the first attack in Baghdad since January, claimed by ISIS, in which 32 people were killed in a market in the center of the capital. A first man had triggered his explosive belt and a second had detonated his explosives as a crowd formed to try to come to the aid of the victims.

The Islamic State, defeated but still present

In May, four unclaimed attacks attributed to ISIS targeted Iraqi soldiers in towns near the capital, killing 18 people. ISIS, which controlled large swathes of Iraqi territory between 2014 and 2017, was defeated by Iraqi troops backed by an international anti-jihadist coalition led by the United States. Cells of this organization are however still present in the country, especially in mountainous and desert areas, and claim specific attacks.

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Some 3,500 foreign troops are still stationed in Iraq, including 2,500 Americans. Sadr City, a popular suburb of Baghdad, is the stronghold of supporters of the turbulent Shiite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr, whose influence is often decisive in Iraqi politics.

A few days ago, Moqtada Al-Sadr announced that he intended to boycott the legislative elections scheduled for October in a country undermined by mismanagement and the failure of public authorities. This attack also occurs a few days before the next visit to the United States of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazimi, who will be received by US President Joe Biden on July 26.

The World with AFP