Death toll from IS Baghdad devastating truck bomb attack rises to 149
Published 04/07/2016 | 11:19
The death toll from Sunday's devastating truck bombing in Baghdad has risen to 149, Iraqi authorities said, as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered new security measures in the country's capital.
The blast, claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, was the deadliest terror attack in Iraq in a year and one of the worst single bombings in more than a decade of war and insurgency.
It underlined IS's ability to strike the Iraqi capital despite a string of battlefield losses elsewhere in the country and fuelled public anger toward the political leadership.
A suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laden vehicle in Baghdad's mostly Shiite Karada district, a favourite avenue for shoppers - especially during the holy month of Ramadan, with the streets and pavements filled with young people and families after they had broken their daylight fast.
Police and health officials said on Monday that the death toll had reached 149 but it was likely to increase even further as rescuers are stilling looking for missing people. At least 192 other people were injured, the officials said.
Hours after the bombing, Mr al-Abadi visited the attack site in Karada, but a furious mob surrounded his convoy, yelling expletives, hurling rocks and shoes at the prime minister's cars and calling him a "thief".
In a statement issued later on Sunday, the premier ordered that a scandal-ridden bomb detection device be withdrawn from service. He also ordered the reopening of an investigation on the procurement of the British-made electronic wands, called ADE 651s.
In 2010, British authorities arrested the director of the British company ATSC Ltd on fraud charges, prompting Iraqis to open their own investigation on alleged corruption charges against some officials. Iraqi authorities made some arrests, but the investigation went nowhere and the device remained in use.
As well as taking away the electronic wand detectors, Mr al-Abadi also ordered that X-ray systems be installed at the entrances of provinces. He demanded the upgrades of the capital's security belt, increased aerial scanning, an increase in intelligence efforts and the division of responsibility among various security units.
Iraqi and foreign officials have linked the recent increase in IS attacks - especially large-scale suicide bombings - with the string of losses IS has faced on the battlefields across Iraq over the past year.
Iraqi security forces, supported by US-led coalition air strikes, have retaken the cities of Tikrit and Ramadi, the Anbar provincial capital. Also in Anbar, Iraqi forces liberated Fallujah from the extremist group just over a week ago.
At the height of the extremist group's power in 2014, IS had deprived the government of control of nearly one third of Iraqi territory. Now the militants are estimated to control only 14%, according to the prime minister's office. IS militants still control Iraq's second-largest northern city of Mosul, north of Baghdad.