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Daesh claims Baghdad bombing that killed 51

Doctors say the death toll could climb further as many of the wounded are in critical condition

Daesh has claimed a deadly car bombing in the Iraqi capital Baghdad that killed and wounded more than 100 people yesterday, in the deadliest attack since the Karrada bombing last summer that claimed approximately 300 lives.

A car packed with explosives blew up yesterday in southern Baghdad, killing at least 51 people and wounding 55, security and medical sources said, in the deadliest such attack in Iraq this year. Daesh, which is on the defensive after losing control of eastern Mosul to a US and Iran-backed Iraqi military offensive earlier this month, claimed responsibility for the bombing in an online statement.

As it cedes territory captured in a 2014 lightning offensive across northern and western Iraq, the ultra-hardline group has stepped up insurgent strikes on government areas, particularly in the capital Baghdad.

Security sources said the vehicle which blew up on Thursday was parked in a crowded street full of garages and used car dealers, in Hayy Al-Shurta, a Shia district in the southwest of the city.

The death toll could climb further as many of the wounded are in critical condition, a doctor said.

The bombing is the second to hit car markets this week, suggesting the group has found it easier to leave vehicles laden with explosives in places where hundreds of other vehicles are parked.

A suicide bomber detonated a pick-up truck on Wednesday in Sadr City, a poor Shia suburb in the east of the capital formerly known as Revolution City before the US invasion in 2003, killing at least 15 people. That explosion took place in a street full of used car dealers.

US and Iran-backed Iraqi forces, massively reinforced by extremist Shia jihadists from the Tehran-sponsored Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) paramilitary organisation, have dislodged Daesh from most of the cities it captured in 2014 and 2015. The militants also control parts of Syria, where they have recently made several gains after initially losing ground.

Iraqi government forces captured eastern Mosul earlier this month and are now preparing an offensive on the western side that remains firmly and completely under the militants’ control. Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi had initially promised victory before 2016 ended, but has since been forced to revise his optimistic assessment to an unspecified date this coming spring due to Daesh’s fierce defence.

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