[Rushtalk] Iraq mourns after more than 200 killed in Baghdad bombing

Carl Spitzer cwsiv at juno.com
Tue Jul 12 07:41:40 MDT 2016


  
Why do they worship the same God as these terrorists? Hasn't that
religion killed enough people yet? How many more of their sons and
daughters are they going to offer up to Allah?

Iraq mourns after more than 200 killed in Baghdad bombing

W.G. Dunlop,AFP 2 hours 35 minutes ago 

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Baghdad (AFP) - Iraqis on Monday mourned the more than 200 people killed
by a jihadist-claimed suicide car bombing that was among the deadliest
ever attacks in the country.

The blast, which the Islamic State group said it carried out, hit the
Karrada district early Sunday as the area was packed with shoppers ahead
of this week's holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of
Ramadan.

The attack sparked anger among Iraqis at the government's inability to
keep them safe even as its forces push IS back, and prompted Prime
Minister Haider al-Abadi to announce efforts to address longstanding
flaws in Baghdad security measures.

Abadi's office announced three days of national mourning for the victims
of the attack and he vowed to "punish" the perpetrators of the blast.

The attack, which security and medical officials told AFP killed at
least 213 people and wounded more than 200, came a week after the
country's forces recaptured Fallujah from IS, leaving Mosul as the only
Iraqi city under the jihadist group's control.

The blast sparked infernos in nearby buildings, and emergency personnel
and family and friends of the victims were still searching on Monday for
those missing following the explosion.

A member of the civil defence forces said it would take days to recover
the bodies of the victims.

Hussein Ali, a 24-year-old former soldier, said six workers at his
family's shop were killed, their bodies so badly burned they could not
be identified.

"I will return to the battlefront. At least there, I know the enemy so I
can fight him. But here, I don't know who I'm fighting," Ali told AFP.

- 'Cowardly and heinous act' -

IS issued a statement claiming responsibility for the suicide bombing,
saying it was carried out by an Iraqi as part of "ongoing security
operations".

The jihadist group said the blast targeted Iraq's Shiite Muslim
majority, whom the Sunni extremists consider heretics and frequently
attack in Baghdad and elsewhere.

UN Iraq envoy Jan Kubis condemned the "cowardly and heinous act of
unparalleled proportions," calling on authorities to bring those
responsible to justice.

Officials said another explosion in the Shaab area of northern Baghdad
killed at least one person and wounded four on Sunday, but the cause of
the blast was disputed.

Bombings in the capital have decreased since IS overran large areas
north and west of Baghdad in June 2014, with the jihadists apparently
more concerned with operations elsewhere.

But the group has struck back against Iraqi civilians after suffering
military setbacks, and in May, Baghdad was rocked by a series of blasts
that killed more than 150 people in seven days.

One video from the scene showed men -- apparently angry at the
government's failure to prevent the carnage in Karrada -- throwing rocks
at what was said to be Abadi's convoy, while a man could be heard
cursing at him in another clip.

But the premier struck a conciliatory tone.

"I understand the emotional feelings and actions that occurred in a
moment of sadness and anger," Abadi said in a statement.

With thousands of vehicles moving in and out of the city each day, such
bombings are difficult to prevent.

- Security changes -

But there are also flaws in security measures in the city, especially
the use of fake bomb detectors at checkpoints years after the man who
sold them to Iraq was jailed for fraud in Britain.

Abadi announced a series of changes to security measures following the
Sunday bombing, including scrapping the fake detectors.

He also ordered the deployment of scanning devices at entrances to
Baghdad to be sped up, directed that security personnel be banned from
using mobile phones at checkpoints, and called for increased aerial
reconnaissance and coordination among security forces.

Iraqi forces completely recaptured Fallujah, a city 50 kilometres (30
miles) west of Baghdad, from the jihadists a week ago.

Anti-government fighters seized Fallujah in early 2014 and it later
became one of IS's main strongholds in the country.

IS's defeat there was compounded by a devastating series of air strikes
targeting jihadist forces as they sought to flee the Fallujah area.

Iraqi and US-led coalition aircraft destroyed hundreds of IS vehicles
and killed dozens of fighters in two days of strikes against jihadist
convoys after the end of the Fallujah battle, officials said.

With Fallujah retaken, Iraqi forces are now setting their sights on
second city Mosul, the last major population centre held by IS in Iraq.



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