Baghdad death toll rises as new security measures ordered

149 people dead and 192 injured after Islamic State bombers targeted Karrada district

 

The death toll from Sunday’s devastating truck bombing in Baghdad has risen to 149, Iraqi authorities said, as prime minister Haider al-Abadi ordered new security measures in the country’s capital.

At least 192 people were wounded by Islamic State suicide bombers in the deadliest attack in the Iraqi capital this year.

Twin blasts targeted the Karrada district where Baghdadis go to enjoy the cool breeze from the Tigris river which winds through the city.

The bombers struck at 1am, killing and wounding patrons enjoying late dinners at restaurants ahead of the day’s fast and shoppers stocking up on food for the feast ending the holy month of Ramadan.

The bombing was claimed by Islamic State, also known as Isis.

While the majority of Karrada residents are Shias – whom Islamic State said it had targeted – the district is also home to Sunnis and Christians.

Members of all three communities were victims of the blasts. Among the dead were 15 children and six policemen, with a dozen people still missing, presumed dead.

Public anger

He declared three days of mourning.

Baghdad

A second bomb had earlier exploded in a northern Shia suburb, killing five people.

Security measures

In a statement issued on Sunday, Mr al-Abadi ordered that a scandal-ridden bomb detection device be withdrawn from service. He also ordered the reopening of an investigation on the procurement of the British-made electronic wands, called ADE 651s.

In 2010, British authorities arrested the director of the British company ATSC Ltd on fraud charges, prompting Iraqis to open their own investigation on alleged corruption charges against some officials.

Iraqi authorities made some arrests, but the investigation went nowhere and the device remained in use. As well as taking away the electronic wand detectors, Mr al-Abadi also ordered that X-ray systems be installed at the entrances of provinces.

He demanded the upgrades of the capital’s security belt, increased aerial scanning, an increase in intelligence efforts and the division of responsibility among various security units.

White House response

In response to the bombings, the White House pledged to remain “united with the Iraqi people and government in our combined efforts to destroy” Islamic State.

Bombings in Baghdad have increased since Islamic State lost the Sunni cities of Tikrit, Ramadi, Rutba and Falluja, the latter which had resisted occupation by Britain, the US, and the Shia fundamentalist-dominated government.

The Iraqi army and allied militias have been marshalling forces for an offensive to recapture Mosul, Iraq’s second city and Islamic State’s remaining bastion in the country.

The attack in Baghdad came just days after suicide bombers killed 45 people at Istanbul’s Ataturk international airport, following a crackdown by Turkey on Islamic State.

In that case the three bombers, from Dagestan in the Russian Federation, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, had crossed into Turkey from Syria where they had been based and trained in Raqqa, the de-facto capital of Islamic State.

Separately, an attack on a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Friday night was carried out by militants claiming allegiance to Islamic State, though the operation was unlikely to have been carried out by a team trained in Iraq or Syria.

Bangladesh has recently suffered a spate of murders of liberals, Hindus, and gay men by radicals who may have been inspired by Islamic State, demonstrating the group’s ideological reach.

Additional reporting PA