A suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest in the middle of a Shia gathering in Baghdad, killing at least 31 people and wounding about 30, police and medics said today.
The explosion went off inside a tent filled with people taking part in Shia Ashura rituals, mourning the killing of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussein bin Ali, who died at the Battle of Karbala almost 1,400 years ago.
The tent was set-up in the Al-Sha’ab district in the north of the Iraqi capital.
No organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the choice of target and the fact that it coincided with a Shia rite suggests radical groups who view the Shia as heretics who must be killed.
The attack also represents the latest failure of the Iraqi authorities to bring security to Baghdad and the wider country. Baghdad is not the site of any combat between the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Daesh, and is littered with security checkpoints that make travel across the city restrictive.
“I swear by Allah that the government is behind this,” Abbas, a Shia resident of Baghdad’s Al-Kadhimiyya district on the west bank of the Tigris, told MEMO.
“We have all these security measures in place but the police and army are mostly corrupt militiamen who take bribes and let these terrorists through with their bombs,” Abbas said, adding, “How else can they explain the constant bombings? Look at what happened in Karrada.”
Last July, another bombing struck the Karrada district of Baghdad targeting late-night shoppers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The bombing claimed almost 300 lives in one of the single deadliest attacks on civilian targets since the US-led invasion in 2003.
Iraq has been plagued by bombings and attacks, even in supposedly secure cities such as the capital. After the Karrada attack, Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi discontinued the use of bomb detectors that had been in use for a decade, and which were bought in bulk by the Iraqi government.
The bomb detectors were uncovered as fakes many years ago, leading to anger that Iraqi authorities had failed to discontinue their use that likely led to the deaths of countless civilians in bombings around the country.
“Those bomb detectors were as fake as magic is, and just helped to kill people rather than save them,” Abbas said in reference to the appearance of the British-made devices that resembled magic wands.