Two men blew themselves up in a crowded Baghdad market and killed at least 32 people in Iraq's first big suicide bombing in three years.
The Daesh terror group has claimed responsibility for twin suicide blasts on a commercial district in Baghdad that killed more than 32 people and left 110 wounded.
One Daesh suicide bomber targeted a group of shoppers and day labourers in Baghdad's Tayaran Square, and a second bomber detonated his explosives when a crowd gathered to help the wounded.
According to Iraqi state media, this was the deadliest attack in the city since January 2018.
According to an interior ministry statement, the first suicide bomber rushed into the market, claiming to feel sick.
Once a crowd of people had gathered around him, he detonated his explosives.
After the first blast went off, people began tending to victims and the wounded. A second attacker then struck and detonated his device, the ministry said.
Medical sources told AFP they feared the death toll could be twice as high as officially announced.
After midnight, Daesh posted a claim of responsibility for the attack on its online propaganda channels.
After years of deadly sectarian violence, suicide bombings have become relatively rare in the capital.
The last such attack took place in June 2019 and left several people dead.
In January 2018, a suicide bombing in Tayaran Square killed more than 30 people, just a few months before the last parliamentary election.
Elections in Iraq are typically preceded by escalating violence, including bombings and assassinations.
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Death toll from twin suicide blasts in Iraq's Baghdad rises to at least 32, with 110 wounded pic.twitter.com/QfKlLwBxKo— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) January 21, 2021
Iraq is gearing up for a new general election this year, which Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhemi originally set for June, nearly a year ahead of schedule, in response to widespread protests in 2019.
But authorities are in talks to reschedule them for October in order to give electoral authorities more time to register voters and new parties.
Iraq declared Daesh defeated at the end of 2017 after a fierce three-year campaign to retake the one-third of the country that had been seized by the militants.
But the group's sleeper cells have continued to operate in desert and mountain areas, typically targeting security forces or state infrastructure with low casualty attacks.
Still, the US-led coalition that had been supporting Iraq's campaign against Daesh has significantly drawn down its troop levels over the past year, citing the increased capabilities of Iraqi troops.
The United States, which provides the bulk of the force, has 2,500 troops left in Iraq, down from 5,200 a year ago.
They are mainly in charge of training, providing drone surveillance and carrying out air strikes while Iraqi security forces handle security in urban areas.
Turkey condemns attack
Turkey condemned the deadly attack, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
"We strongly condemn this heinous attack, and on this occasion, we emphasise once again that we stand by our friend and neighbour Iraq in the fight against terrorism. May God's mercy descend upon those who lost their lives and a speedy recovery to the wounded. We extended our condolences to the people and the government of Iraq."
Pope deplores the attack
Pope Francis, who hopes to visit Iraq in March, said he was "deeply saddened" by the "senseless" suicide bombing in Baghdad.
"In deploring this senseless act of brutality, he prays for the deceased victims and their families, for the injured and for the emergency personnel in attendance," the Vatican said in a statement sent to Iraqi President Barham Saleh in the pope's name.