BAGHDAD: Two suicide bombers ripped through a busy market area in central Baghdad Saturday, shattering a relative lull in attacks in the capital and dampening preparations for New Year celebrations.
The bombers attacked the Al-Sinek area, killing at least 27 people and wounding 53, a police colonel said. An officer in the interior ministry and a hospital official confirmed the toll.
“Many of the victims were people from the spare parts shops in the area, they were gathered near a cart selling breakfast when the explosions went off,” said Ibrahim Mohammed Ali, who owns a nearby shop.
Torn clothes and mangled iron were strewn across the ground in pools of blood at the site of the wreckage near Rasheed street, one of the main thoroughfares in Baghdad, an AFP photographer reported.
“Twin terrorist attacks were carried out by suicide bombers in Al-Sinek neighbourhood,” an official from Baghdad operations command told AFP.
The targeted area is packed with shops, workshops and wholesale markets and usually teeming with delivery trucks and daily labourers unloading vans or wheeling carts around.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for what was the deadliest attack to hit the capital since mid-October but the Islamic State jihadist group has claimed nearly all such bombings.
Baghdad has been on high alert since the start on October 17 of an offensive, Iraq’s largest military operation in years, to retake the northern jihadist stronghold of Mosul.
IS has tried to hit back with major diversionary attacks on other targets across the country but has had little success in Baghdad. Saturday’s twin bombings were the deadliest in the capital since the start of the Mosul offensive.
At least 34 people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a funeral tent in Baghdad’s Shaab area on October 15.