At least 83 dead in Islamic State-claimed bombing in Baghdad

At least 83 people have died in a car bombing claimed by the Islamic State extremist group on Sunday in Baghdad, police said after the attack in an area where people were shopping in the run-up to the Eid al-Fitr holiday the following week.

A further 157 people were injured in the bombing, which rocked a busy commercial area early Sunday in the Iraqi capital's central district of Karada, an unnamed security official said, according to the Iraqi Media News Agency. Initial reports had said 60 were killed and 100 injured.

Among those killed in the attack, 50 could not be identified because their bodies were charred, independent Iraqi news website Almada Press reported, citing a Baghdad health official.

Footage on local broadcasters from the site of the bombing showed burnt-out cars and damaged buildings.

The attack follows several military setbacks suffered by Islamic State in Iraq amid a government push to retake areas controlled by extremist group.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi inspected the scene of the attack and vowed revenge, state broadcaster al-Iraqiya reported.

Al-Abadi accused what he called "terrorist gangs" of carrying out the bombing after "they were crushed on the battlefield."

Last month, the Iraqi government announced that it had retaken full control of the mostly Sunni western city of Fallujah from Islamic State.

Independent website Alsumaria News reported that al-Abadi quickly left Karada because of locals' anger at the alleged inefficiency of security forces, which they blamed for the bombing.

A video posted online showed an angry crowd throwing stones and jerry cans at al-Abadi's convoy. A voice could be heard in the video repeatedly shouting "a thief."

There was no official comment in Baghdad.

In an online statement circulated by its supporters, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. The group alleged that a suicide bomber targeted a crowd of Shiites.

The statement could not be verified by dpa.

The radical Sunni Islamic State regards Shiite Muslims as heretics.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, nine people were killed and 11 injured in a blast amid conflicting reports about its cause.

Some local media said the blast in a market in the mostly Shiite Shaab district in the north had resulted from a bomb.

The Interior Ministry said that an "accidental fire" erupted in the area, causing a blast inside a store.

Baghdad operations spokesman General Saad Maan dismissed as "media fabrication" reports that the Shaab blast was the result of a bomb.

"This is a media fabrication behind which suspicious quarters stand," Maan said without being specific. "This aims at spreading confusion."

The official added that a group suspected of involvement in the Karada attack had been arrested. He did not give details.

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

The group is also under pressure from Kurdish-led forces in neighbouring Syria, who are seeking to cut if off from the Turkish border, its last direct link to the outside world.

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

Last update: Sun, 03/07/2016 - 17:03
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