Suicide attack leaves 32 dead in central Baghdad
(Update: updates throughout)
Baghdad, Jan 21 (efe-epa).- At least 32 people died and another 110 were wounded Thursday in a double suicide bombing at a street market in downtown Baghdad, the worst attack of its kind in the Iraqi capital in recent years.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khaled al Muhana said in remarks to state-run Al Iraquiya television that the first attacker pretended to be sick and asked people for help, and when a group of them had gathered around him he detonated the explosive belt he was wearing.
Al Muhana said that the second suicide bomber blew himself up while other people were arriving at the scene to help the victims of the first blast.
At present, no group has claimed responsibility for the dual attack.
In a video posted on the social networks one of the blasts can be seen occurring along the street near the market stalls where a group of people had gathered.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi ordered an investigation into the presumed security breaches that enabled the attackers to strike and announced changes to security procedures, according to a statement released after an emergency meeting with top officials in that area.
Shortly thereafter, Iraqi authorities announced the firing of five top Interior Ministry and Baghdad police officials, including the deputy interior minister for intelligence matters, the general director for fighting terrorism and the Federal Police chief in the capital.
President Barham Salih condemned the bombing, saying “We firmly stand against these rogue attempts to destabilize our country.”
This type of terror attack used to be common in Baghdad, especially during the 2003-2011 US occupation of Iraq.
Before Thursday, the most recent suicide attack in the capital had come in May 2019, when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt in a popular market in the predominantly Shiite al-Sadr City neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, killing eight people and wounding 15 others.
Iraq has received multiple shows of support from abroad, including from the US, the United Nations, Pope Francis, the Arab League and other Middle Eastern countries.
The pontiff, who a month ago announced that he will visit Iraq in early March, sent a telegram to Salih in which he deplored “this senseless act of brutality,” while the UN Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) “strongly condemned” the attack, calling it a “despicable act.”