Iraq blast

Baghdad blast death toll rises to 149 as PM orders tighter security checks

Iraqi authorities have raised the death toll from an attack on a Baghdad shopping district to 149 as the prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, ordered new security measures in the capital.

The bombing – which targeted civilians walking late on Saturday after breaking the Ramadan fast – was the single deadliest attack in Iraq this year and one of the deadliest in more than a decade of insurgency and war.

Islamic State (Isis) claimed responsibility and said it had deliberately targeted Shia Muslims in the attack on Karada, on the southern bank of the Tigris river. The attack once again exposed the frailty of security efforts to protect Iraqi citizens.

Abadi issued a statement late on Sunday ordering tighter security checks around Baghdad and the removal from service of fake bomb detectors sold to Iraq by a British businessman, James McCormick, jailed for 10 years in 2013 for fraud.

Police and health officials said on Monday the death toll stood at 142 but that it was likely to increase further as rescuers are still looking for missing people. At least 185 people were wounded, the officials said.

The attack came days after Isis fled from its stronghold of Falluja. The terror group’s statement implied it drew no distinction between civilians and security forces with whom it is battling to retain control of more than a third of the country that it overran in mid-2014, in a rampage that threatened Iraq’s ongoing viability.

Two years later, Isis has lost at least half of that territory and is increasingly resorting to the guerilla tactics that characterised its rise from 2004. Then and now, suicide car bombs, like that used in Karada, have been central to the organisation’s operations.

Baghdad has been struck upwards of 1,000 times, Iraqi officials claim, with the vast majority of those attacks targeting civilian areas frequented by the majority Shia sect, such as market places, shopping strips, religious gatherings and shrines.


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