Baghdad (AP) – The first serious terrorist attack in Baghdad in about three years has left the Iraqi capital in shock.
Two suicide bombers blew themselves up on a square in the center of the city on Thursday, killing at least 32 people, the Iraqi Ministry of Health announced. 110 people were injured. At first, no one confessed to the crime in Bab al-Sharki district. The suspicion was directed against the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS).
Army spokesman Jahia Rasul said the two hitmen blew themselves up in a chase with security forces in a market square. An eyewitness told an Iraqi TV station that the blasts took place about ten minutes apart. The first killer pretended to be sick, called for help, and detonated the bomb when people were around him.
A video that should show the second of the two attacks shows an explosion on a busy street. Other recordings showed that the dead and injured were on the earth after the blast. Rescue workers took care of the victims.
The security situation in Baghdad has improved significantly in recent years. Iraq continues to suffer the consequences of the fight against the Sunni terrorist ISIS militia, which ruled large areas in northern and western Iraq between 2014 and 2017. Terrorist attacks have repeatedly shaken the country. One of the worst attacks in recent years occurred in January 2018 when two hitmen killed 38 people in a busy Baghdad market square.
Iraqi security forces were able to defeat ISIS militarily with international support – mainly from the US, but also from Germany. Terrorist cells are still active and carry out attacks. Baghdad has also seen repeated missile attacks in recent months, including against Iraqi military bases used by US forces. Militias closely associated with Iran are held responsible for this. They want US troops to withdraw.
The UN and the US Embassy in Baghdad condemned the attack. The attack was a “reprehensible act of cowardice,” the Twitter post said. Iraqi President Barham Salih said the attack was against “great national merits”.
The timing of the double strike could be directly related to the appointment of new US President Joe Biden on Wednesday. Under its predecessor Donald Trump, the US had reduced the number of troops in the crisis country. The Pentagon announced last week that the reduction to 2500 soldiers had been completed. Iraqis are also expected to elect a new parliament earlier than planned this year. The government had postponed the vote, initially scheduled for June, to October 10 this week.
The political situation in the country is generally unstable. In addition, oil-dependent Iraq is facing a serious economic crisis due to low oil prices. It is also one of the countries in the region hardest hit by the corona pandemic.