Iraqi security chiefs fired after IS claims Baghdad market attack

  2021-01-22 11:50      156 View Count        Comment

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has sacked his deputy interior minister for intelligence affairs, director of counter-terrorism and intelligence in the Interior Ministry and commander of federal police forces, following twin suicide bombings in Baghdad on Thursday.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack that killed at least 32 people in a crowded clothing market in the city centre, the first such attack in three years. Authorities described it as a possible sign of the reactivation of the terror group.

IS claimed early on Friday that two of its men had blown themselves up in Tayaran Square, according to a statement posted on the group’s Telegram communications channel.

Reuters journalists arriving after the blasts saw pools of blood and discarded shoes at the site. Health authorities said at least 110 people had been wounded.

"One [bomber] came, fell to the ground and started complaining ‘my stomach is hurting’ and he pressed the detonator in his hand. It exploded immediately. People were torn to pieces,” said a street vendor who did not give his name.

Suicide attacks, once an almost daily occurrence in the Iraqi capital, have halted in recent years since IS fighters were defeated in 2017, part of an overall improvement in security that has brought normal life back to the city.

“Daesh terrorist groups might be standing behind the attacks,” Civil Defence chief Major General Kadhim Salman told reporters, using an Arabic term for IS.

A video taken from a rooftop and circulated on social media purported to show the second blast scattering people gathered in the area. Images shared online, which Reuters could not independently verify, showed several dead and wounded.

Thursday's attack took place in the same market that was struck in the last big attack, in January 2018, when at least 27 people were killed.

Suicide attacks against civilian targets were a near-daily tactic of mainly Sunni Muslim insurgents during the US occupation of Iraq after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, and were later employed by Islamic State, whose fighters swept across a third of the country in 2014.

By 2017 the fighters had been driven from all territory they held, although they have continued to wage a low-level insurgency against Iraqi forces and attack officials mainly in northern areas.

Source: Reuters

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