Death toll in weekend Baghdad bombing rises to 213

The death toll from a massive car bombing in Baghdad soared to at least 213, up from an initial estimate of more than 100, an Iraqi Health Ministry source told dpa Monday.

The Sunday blast, which was claimed by the Islamic State extremist group, hit crowds in Baghdad's central district of Karada during the busy shopping period ahead of the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, the source said. More than 300 people were wounded.

The bomb went off about 1 am (2200 GMT Saturday), a time when locals shop for presents for the Eid festival at the end of Ramadan and crowd into restaurants for the pre-dawn meal in preparation for a day of fasting.

In a statement circulated online by Islamic State supporters, which dpa could not verify, the terrorist group claimed that a suicide bomber targeted a crowd of Shiites. The Islamic State movement regards Shiite Muslims as heretics.

The group had earlier claimed numerous deadly bombings in mainly Shiite areas of the capital.

Baghdad military operations spokesman General Saad Maan said that a group suspected of involvement in the Karada attack had since been arrested, without giving details.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday declared three days of official mourning after visiting the scene of the bombing.

A video posted online showed an angry crowd throwing stones and jerry cans at al-Abadi's convoy.

The premier said that he "understands the emotional feelings and actions that took place in a moment of grief and anger."

The attack came a week after the Iraqi government announced that it had retaken full control of the mostly Sunni city of Fallujah, a key Islamic State stronghold some 50 kilometres west of Baghdad.

In recent months, Iraq, backed by airstrikes by a US-led alliance, has intensified a military campaign to drive Islamic State forces from their strongholds in the country's mostly Sunni western and northern areas.

In neighbouring Syria, the group is under pressure from Kurdish-led forces seeking to cut off Islamic State territory from the Turkish border, the organization's last direct link to the outside world.

On June 18, government forces launched a major attack near Islamic State's northern stronghold of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.

Separately, some 20 rockets were fired Monday evening at a camp near Baghdad airport that hosts exiled members of a former Iranian rebel group, security forces said.

Some of the rockets landed on a village near Camp Liberty, causing "numerous injuries" to civilians, the Iraqi Army's information service said. There were no immediate reports of casualties among the People's Mujahedin, or Mujahedin-e Khalq, rebels in the camp.

Security forces found a rocket launching platform used in the attack, the army said. There was no claim of responsibility for the attack on the camp.

In October a rocket attack on Camp Liberty killed at least 20 people, according to the United Nations. The People's Mujahedin was engaged in armed resistance against Iran's theocratic government until the group renounced violence in 2001.

Last update: Mon, 04/07/2016 - 23:14

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