Thursday 8 December 2016

Death toll from IS Baghdad devastating truck bomb attack rises to 149

Sinan Salaheddin

Published 04/07/2016 | 11:19

People light candles at the scene of a massive car bomb attack in Karada, a busy shopping district where people were shopping for the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday, in the center of Baghdad, Iraq (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
People light candles at the scene of a massive car bomb attack in Karada, a busy shopping district where people were shopping for the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday, in the center of Baghdad, Iraq (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
People light candles at the scene of a massive car bomb attack in Karada, a busy shopping district where people were shopping for the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday, in the center of Baghdad, Iraq (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
People light candles at the scene of a massive car bomb attack in Karada, a busy shopping district where people were shopping for the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday, in the center of Baghdad, Iraq (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
People light candles at the scene of a massive car bomb attack in Karada, a busy shopping district where people were shopping for the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday, in the center of Baghdad, Iraq (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

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.

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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.

Mourners weep during the funeral of a victim killed in a suicide bomb in the Karrada shopping area in Baghdad. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
Mourners weep during the funeral of a victim killed in a suicide bomb in the Karrada shopping area in Baghdad. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
A woman grieves at the scene of the attack. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Firemen hose down a burning building as civilians gather after a suicide car bomb occurred in the Karrada shopping area in Baghdad. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily
People gather at the site of a suicide car bomb in Baghdad, Iraq. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily
Iraqis evacuate a body from the site of a suicide car bombing claimed by the Islamic State. Getty Images
Iraqis gather at the site of a suicide car bombing claimed by the Islamic State group in Baghdad's central Karrada district. Getty Images
Iraqis removed a burnt car from the site of a suicide car bombing claimed by the Islamic State. Getty Images
Residents light candles at the site after a suicide bombing in the Karrada shopping area, in Baghdad. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily

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.

Press Association

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