80 killed in Baghdad in sixth day of bomb attacks in a week

At least 80 people were killed in the Baghdad area on Tuesday when bomb attacks, the biggest of which was claimed by the Islamic State extremist group, hit five districts in and around the Iraqi capital.

The bombings, which left another 190 people injured according to eye witnesses and security and medical officials, marked the sixth day out of seven that the city was hit by deadly attacks targeting mainly Shiite areas.

The Iraqi government said that Islamic State was lashing out in response to recent gains by security forces who are pushing into the western al-Anbar province, long a stronghold of the Sunni extremist group.

Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi demanded a shake-up in the country's security services to improve the defence of cities against bomb attacks, and ordered the arrest of the head of security in the capital's al-Shaab district where the worst attack took place.

Eyewitnesses in the mainly Shiite district said that a car bomb went off in a marketplace in the area, following which a female suicide bomber blew herself up.

The double attack claimed 47 lives, according to witnesses and officials.

In the city's eastern Sadr City district, scene of a bombing in which more than 60 people lost their lives on Wednesday, 22 more people fell victim to a car bomb.

Militants loyal to firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr sealed off the district and mounted guard on government buildings after the blast.

Further deadly car bomb attacks hit the south-eastern al-Amin district and the religiously mixed al-Rashid and Yusufiyah areas south of the city.

Security forces were deployed in force to secure the city against further attacks, while ambulances raced through the streets throughout the day.

Al-Sadr, who has been calling for the sacking of al-Abadi's cabinet and the installation of a technocratic administration, said that the blasts proved the government was unable to protect civilians.

Islamic State supporters on social media circulated a statement saying a male suicide bomber had carried out the al-Shaab attack. The bomber targeted members of Shiite paramilitary forces, the statement claimed.

Dpa could not independently authenticate the claim, but it was similar to previous such claims issued by the extremist group.

Islamic State has frequently targeted crowded markets and restaurants in mainly Shiite areas, as well as attacking Shiite religious ceremonies and security forces.

The Iraqi government pointed to recent advances by security forces as motivating the attack, noting that troops had on Monday started an operation to recapture the town of al-Rutba, in al-Anbar province near the Jordanian borders.

A government statement said that "the enemy steps up its crimes against innocent citizens every time it suffers defeats on the front against our heroic fighters."

Al-Abadi's spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said that the premier had ordered "changes in the intelligence system to protect our cities from terrorism," but gave no details of the planned shake-up.

Over 180 people have been killed in a wave of bomb and gun attacks in and around Baghdad over the last week.

Al-Abadi on Saturday charged that a political crisis in the capital was working to the extremist group's advantage.

The premier has been trying for months to form a more technocratic government in an effort to combat corruption and bad administration.

He has come under pressure from al-Sadr, who is seeking to spearhead popular anger against the political elite and has brought thousands of followers onto the streets to call for the sacking of the government, al-Abadi himself and President Fouad Massoum. 

But rival political parties, which have carved out fiefdoms in various ministries, have been obstructing al-Abadi's moves.

Last update: Tue, 17/05/2016 - 23:40

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