Isil suicide bomber slaughters at least 36 in Baghdad market
A suicide bomber driving a van loaded with explosives struck a bustling market in Baghdad, killing at least 36 people in an attack claimed by Isil hours after French President Francois Hollande arrived in the Iraqi capital.
The bomb went off in a fruit and vegetable market that was packed with labourers, and injured another 52 people.
During a press conference with Mr Hollande, Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the bomber pretended to be a man seeking to hire day labourers. Once the workers gathered around, he detonated the vehicle.
Isil claimed the attack in a statement circulated on a militant website often used by the extremists. It was the third Isil-claimed attack in as many days in and around Baghdad, underscoring the lingering threat posed by the group despite a string of setbacks elsewhere in the country over the past year, including in and around the northern city of Mosul.
The attack took place in Sadr City, a vast Shi'ite district in eastern Baghdad that has been repeatedly targeted by Sunni extremists since the 2003 US-led invasion.
Dead bodies were scattered across the bloody pavement alongside fruit, vegetables and labourers' shovels and axes. A minibus filled with dead passengers was on fire.
Asaad Hashim, an owner of a mobile phone store nearby, described how the labourers pushed and shoved around the bomber's vehicle, trying to get hired.
"Then a big boom came, sending them up into the air," said the 28-year old, who suffered shrapnel wounds to his right hand.
He blamed "the most ineffective security forces in the world" for failing to prevent the attack.