At least 54 die in car bombs in Shia areas of Baghdad
Fourteen car bombs explode across Iraqi capital in apparently co-ordinated attacks
A member of the Kurdish security forces inspects the site of a bomb attack in the city of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region, about 350 km (217 miles) north of Baghdad, yesterday. Photograph: Azad Lashkari/Reuters
Damaged vehicles at the site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad’s Kadhimiya district earlier today. Photograph: Hadeer Abbas/Reuters
Car bombs exploded in several predominantly Shia Muslim neighbourhoods of Baghdad today, killing at least 54 people and wounding dozens, police and medical sources said.
The deadliest attack took place in Sadr City, where a man parked a white car packed with explosives near a location where day labourers had gathered. The vehicle blew up soon afterwards, killing at least seven people, including two soldiers.
“The driver said he would move it soon, but the car exploded a few minutes later,“ said Abu Mohammed, a worker at the scene.
Footage from the scene showed the remains of a car torn in two surrounded by damaged taxis and bits of metal melted in the heat of the blast.
Altogether 14 car bombs exploded across the Iraqi capital in apparently co-ordinated attacks. It was not clear who was behind them, but hardline Sunni Muslim militants who view Shias as non-believers have been intensifying their insurgency this year.
Iraq’s delicate sectarian balance has been strained by the civil war in neighbouring Syria, where mainly Sunni rebels are fighting to overthrow a leader backed by Shia Iran.
Both Sunnis and Shias have crossed into Syria from Iraq to fight on opposite sides of the conflict.
Al Qaeda’s Iraqi and Syrian branches merged earlier this year to form the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has claimed responsibility for attacks on both sides of the border.
Shias, security personnel, government employees and government-backed Sunni “Sahwa” militia members are prime targets for al Qaeda and other Sunni insurgents.
Yesterday, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shia funeral in a mosque in the town of Mussayab, 60km (40 miles) south of Baghdad, killing at least 40 people.
More than 6,000 people have been killed in violence so far this year, according to the monitoring group Iraq Body Count.
The Interior Ministry put the death toll from today’s attacks at eight. Iraqi authorities frequently understate casualties from sectarian violence.