Update on July 4 at 1:15 p.m.: On Monday afternoon, rescue workers were still searching and pulling bodies from the rubble of the attack, which killed at least 200 people, a local official said.
Update at 10:10 a.m.: The death toll from the two bombings that hit Baghdad overnight Saturday has increased to at least 130 people as 125 were killed in central Baghdad, according to Iraqi police. At least 25 children were killed in the blasts, reports CNN.
Original post: The Iraqi capital was once again the scene of carnage and tragedy over the weekend when two separate bombs overnight on Saturday killed at least 91 people. The deadliest blast took place when a refrigerator truck packed with explosives blew up in the busy shopping district of Karada in the center of Baghdad around midnight on Saturday and killed at least 86 people while injuring 170. The attack took place at the time when families were out in the streets after breaking their daylight fast for the holy month of Ramadan, which ends this week. Many of the dead were children, according to witnesses, and officials warned the death toll would likely rise as more bodies could be lying under the rubble of collapsed buildings.
ISIS quickly claimed responsibility for the Karada attack, saying it was an effort to target Shiite Muslims. The attack took place almost one week after Iraq declared it had “fully liberated” the city of Fallujah from ISIS control, demonstrating how the Islamist extremists can still mount deadly attacks even after suffering major losses in the battlefield. “As more territory is won back, the group is reverting to its roots as a guerrilla insurgency, turning Baghdad once again into an urban killing field,” notes the New York Times.
The attack illustrates why targeting ISIS requires more than just a military strategy. Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan explains:
Although the Fallujah battle may be over, it shows that if you squeeze ISIL in one area, they pop up in another. This isn’t a problem that goes away by taking territory from ISIL.
You need police work, intelligence gathering—it’s not just a military operation. There will always be ISIL sympathisers in Baghdad that will try and mount attacks like these ones.
Anger is coming through in Karada because the prime minister and MPs are behind the Green Zone, they’re fortified. Everyone else feels like they are under attack.
In a separate explosion, at least five people were killed when an improvised explosive also went off at around midnight on Saturday in a market in al-Shaab, a popular Shiite neighborhood north of Baghdad.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the site of the deadlier blast in Karada hours after the attack but was met with an angry crowd that pelted his convoy with rocks and shoes.