Iraq has hanged three people who were convicted over a 2016 car bomb attack in Baghdad, which killed over 300 people and injured hundreds more. Responsibility for the attack, which was the deadliest single bombing in the country since the illegal US-led invasion in 2003, was claimed by Daesh.
The executions were carried out on Sunday and Monday according to the office of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani. During a meeting with victims’ families, Al-Sudani is said to have informed them that, “The rightful punishment of the death sentence was carried out against three key criminals found guilty of their involvement in the terrorist bombing.”
Although it did not name those executed, a government source told AFP that Ghazwan Alzawbaee was among them. Former Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi named Alzawbaee as “the primary culprit” behind the attack after his capture and repatriation to Iraq in 2021.
At least 313 people were killed when a car bomb tore through Baghdad’s Karrada shopping district on 3 July, 2016, coinciding with the Islamic festival of Eid Al-Fitr, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The district is a mainly Shia Muslim area of the Iraqi capital.
Police Major General Talib Khalil Rahi said at the time that the bomber’s minibus had been loaded with plastic explosives and ammonium nitrate. While the initial blast killed a limited number of people, the flames spread and trapped people inside shopping centres which lacked emergency exits, Rahi told a news conference a few days after the incident.
Although the Iraqi authorities declared victory over Daesh in 2017, sporadic low-level attacks persist against army and police personnel, particularly in rural and remote areas beyond major cities. The UN estimated in a report in March that Daesh still has “5,000 to 7,000 members and supporters” across Iraq and neighbouring Syria, “roughly half of whom are fighters.”
On Sunday, Iraqi News reported that that a person belonging to Daesh had been arrested in a hotel in Baghdad, allegedly on a mission to gather information about security personnel.