Wednesday 13 December 2017

At least 54 killed in series of car bomb explosions in Baghdad

Iraqi security forces and people gather at the site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad's mainly Shi'ite district of Sadr City, Iraq, May 17, 2016
Iraqi security forces and people gather at the site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad's mainly Shi'ite district of Sadr City, Iraq, May 17, 2016
Iraqi security forces inspect the site of a suicide bomb attack in a marketplace in Baghdad's al-Shaab district, Iraq May 17, 2016

At least 54 people have been killed in Iraq by three car bombs at outdoor markets in Shiite-dominated neighbourhoods of Baghdad.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the deadliest bombing of the day, which took place in Baghdad's north-eastern Shaab neighbourhood where at least 28 people were killed and 65 injured.

In that attack, a roadside bomb first exploded outside the concrete blast walls surrounding the open-air market, followed by a suicide bomber who blew himself up as people gathered to help the victims of the first explosion.

IS said in an online statement that the attack was carried out by an Iraqi who targeted members of Shiite militias.

Later, a parked car bomb struck a fruit and vegetable market in the Shiite-dominated neighbourhood of Dora, in southern Baghdad, killing eight people and injuring 22.

In Baghdad's eastern Shiite neighbourhood of Sadr City, a suicide car bombing hit a crowded outdoor market, killing 18 people and injuring 35.

Commercial and public places in Shiite-dominated areas are among the most frequent targets for the Sunni militants seeking to undermine Iraqi government efforts to maintain security inside the capital. Since the summer of 2014, IS has controlled significant areas in northern and western Iraq, including the country's second-largest city of Mosul.

A wave of bombings in and around Baghdad over the past week has killed almost 200 people.

Earlier on Tuesday, Iraqi oil workers resumed work at a natural gas plant north of Baghdad, two days after a coordinated IS dawn assault left at least 14 people there dead.

An attack on Sunday in the town of Taji, about 12 miles north of Baghdad, saw a suicide car bombing at the facility's main gate, followed by several IS fighters breaking into the plant where they clashed with security forces for hours before the attackers were repelled.

The dead included six civilians and eight security forces while 27 Iraqi troops were injured.

Deputy oil minister Hamid Younis said work at the plant's three production lines returned "to normal levels" on Tuesday.

He said the plant was back to full capacity of producing 30,000 cooking gas cylinders a day, adding that Sunday's attack had only damaged two gas storages and a few pipelines.

Iraqi state TV showed workers in navy blue overalls filling metal and plastic cylinders on conveyor belts and forklift trucks loading cylinders into trucks.

The assault on Taji came as Islamic State militants are being pushed back along several front lines in Iraq, prompting the Sunni extremists to increasingly turn to insurgency-style attacks to detract from their losses.

IS-claimed attacks have killed more than 140 people since last week in Iraq. In 2014, the IS declared an Islamic caliphate on the territory it holds in Iraq and Syria and at the height of its power was estimated to hold nearly a third of both Iraq and Syria. Iraq's government says the group's hold has since shrunk to 14% of Iraq's territory.

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