(CNN) – Nearly two days after a suicide truck bomb ripped through Baghdad, families are still hoping that rescuers searching through the rubble can locate the bodies of their loved ones.
The Saturday night attack on a busy shopping district was the deadliest single incident in the Iraq’s war-weary capital in years, killing at least 200 people, Mohamed al-Rubaye, the deputy head of the security committee of the Baghdad Provincial Council, said on Afaq TV Monday.
Crews are still on the scene in the Karrada neighborhood where the blast occurred, trying to pull bodies from the devastation.
And 81 of the bodies are so charred, DNA testing will need to be conducted in order to identify them, al-Rubaye said. Keep reading
Excerpted from Al Jazeera: Anger is growing in Baghdad over the government’s failure to protect civilians, after a devastating bombing in a crowded commercial area in the Iraqi capital killed more than 200 people, including many children.
The powerful explosion early on Sunday came near the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when the streets were filled with young people and families out after sunset.
The death toll from the blast in Karada, a predominantly Shia neighbourhood in central Baghdad, rose to over 200 on Monday morning, as the bodies of more victims were pulled from the rubble.
Hundreds were wounded when a lorry packed with explosives blew up in a busy shopping street filled with people after they had broken their fast.
Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan
Karada is in the middle of Baghdad. It is a district people go to – and this would have been where people would gather towards the end of Ramadan, after fasting. People would have also been in the cafes watching the Euro 2016 quarter finals.
This was a deliberate attack. We’ve seen ISIL do this time and time again.
A few months ago, I spoke to members of the Karada business community who were setting up a neighbourhood watch because they were so angry with the government for not being able to provide security. But even they said they couldn’t monitor everything, all the time, as it was such a busy shopping district.
Although the Fallujah battle may be over, it shows that if you squeeze ISIL in one area, they pop up in another. This isn’t a problem that goes away by taking territory from ISIL.
You need police work, intelligence gathering – it’s not just a military operation. There will always be ISIL sympathisers in Baghdad who will try to mount attacks like these ones.
Anger is coming through in Karada because the prime minister and MPs are in the Green Zone, they’re fortified. Everyone else feels like they are under attack.
Although this attack was big – it was not unusual.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement circulated by its supporters online.
The group, which has claimed numerous deadly bombings in mainly Shia areas of Baghdad, alleged that a suicide bomber targeted a crowd of Shia Muslims.
Many of the victims were women and children who were inside a multi-storey shopping and amusement mall. Dozens burned to death or suffocated, a police officer said.
There were fears the death toll could rise even further.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi condemned the bombing and declared three days of mourning across the country after visiting the scene of the attack.
Video footage posted online showed people jeering and throwing objects at his convoy.
Later on Sunday, protesters marched from Karada to Abadi’s house.
Many Iraqis blame their political leadership for lapses in security in Baghdad that have allowed large amounts of explosives to make their way past multiple checkpoints and into neighbourhoods packed with civilians.
“All the politicians in Iraq are responsible for these blasts, including Abadi,” a woman in Karada told local media.
“We can’t enjoy the Eid; if it isn’t ISIL, it’s al-Qaeda, and if it isn’t the two, it’s the filthy corrupt politics in this country.
“We are being targeted while they are sitting safe and sound in their palaces. They are the ones who are allowing ISIL to come here and murder people.”
Iraqi politician Mowaffak Baqer al-Rubaie said ISIL was ‘resorting to classic, traditional terrorist acts’ in response to losing territory in Iraq [Reuters]
Jan Kubis, the UN envoy for Iraq, said the attack was an attempt by ISIL to avenge losses on the battlefield.
“This is a cowardly and heinous act of unparalleled proportions, to target peaceful civilians in the closing days of the holy month of Ramadan,” Kubis said in a statement. Keep reading
BAGHDAD (AP) — The death toll from the truck bombing at a bustling Baghdad commercial street rose to 149 on Monday, Iraqi authorities said, as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered new security measures in the capital.
The bombing early Sunday, claimed by the Islamic State group, was the deadliest terror attack in Iraq in a year and one of the worst single bombings in more than a decade of war and insurgency. It underscored the IS group’s ability to strike the Iraqi capital despite a string of battlefield losses elsewhere in the country and fueled public anger toward the government.
The suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laden vehicle in Baghdad’s mostly Shiite Karada district, a favorite avenue for shoppers – especially during the holy month of Ramadan, with the streets and sidewalks filled with young people and families after they had broken their daylight fast.
Police and health officials said Monday the toll reached 149 but that it was likely to increase even further as rescuers are still looking for missing people. At least 192 people were wounded, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
Hours after the bombing, al-Abadi visited the attack site in Karada, but a furious mob surrounded his convoy, yelling expletives, hurling rocks and shoes and calling him a “thief.”
In a statement issued later Sunday, al-Abadi ordered that a scandal-ridden bomb detection device be pulled 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 into alleged corruption. Iraqi authorities made some arrests, but the investigation went nowhere and the device remained in use.
Along with taking away the electronic wand detectors, 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 and stepped-up intelligence efforts.
Iraqi and foreign officials have linked the recent increase in IS attacks -especially large-scale suicide bombings – with the string of battlefield losses the extremist group has faced over the past year.
Iraqi security forces, supported by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, have retaken the cities of Tikrit, Ramadi and Fallujah.
At the height of the extremist group’s power in 2014, IS had deprived the government of control of nearly one third of Iraqi territory. Now the militants are estimated to control only 14 percent, according to the prime minister’s office. IS still controls Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.