Iraq: Deadliest ISIS attack kills more than 200 civilians in shopping areas

© REUTERS/ Khalid al Mousily
© REUTERS/ Khalid al Mousily

More than 200 victims of an Islamic State attack were mourned in Baghdad on Monday, in what is described as the deadliest attack launched in the history of the militant group.

Large crowds of angry and grieving Iraqis filled the streets of Baghdad’s Karrada district following the twin suicide car bombing that targeted civilians shopping during the last few days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The large explosion set several buildings ablaze, including a bustling shopping centre that was completely destroyed by the inferno. A member of the civil defence forces said that it would take “a number of days” to recover the bodies of the victims.

People chanted against government corruption – which they blame for repeated security breaches in the capital – while others lit candles and said prayers at the scene of the deadly bombing. The defiant crowds also vowed to sacrifice their “souls and blood” to protect their country and people against IS.

Funeral processions crisscrossed the streets of Karrada since the bombing took place on Sunday, before heading to the city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, where many Shia Muslims bury their dead.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday ordered changes to Baghdad’s security measures, including withdrawing fake bomb detectors from use, in response to the deadly attack.

Abadi also directed that the interior ministry to speed up the deployment of the “Rapiscan device for searching vehicles” at all entrances to Baghdad – an apparent reference to truck-based scanners from Rapiscan Systems.

He also ordered security personnel manning checkpoints not to use their mobile phones while on duty – a frequent occurrence that reduces the effectiveness of the many checkpoints scattered around Baghdad.

IS said the bombing targeted members of Iraq’s Shia Muslim majority, whom it considers heretics and frequently attacks in Baghdad and elsewhere.

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