Islamic State bombers kill 52 in Baghdad, 70 in Pakistan
A massive car bomb ripped through a used car market in the south of Iraq’s capital Thursday, killing 52 people in the deadliest such attack this year, security officials said. A separate attack in Pakistan by another bomber killed 70.
The Amaq propaganda agency linked to the Islamic State jihadist group (IS), which has claimed nearly all such attacks recently, reported the blast and described it as targeting “a gathering of Shiites”.
The explosion, which sent a thick plume of dark grey smoke billowing into the sky above Bayaa neighbourhood, sowed carnage and caused extensive destruction.
“A terrorist car bomb attack struck near car dealerships in Bayaa,” a spokesman for the Baghdad Operations Command said in a statement.
Iraqi officials said the bomb targeted car dealerships in the mostly Shiite neighborhood.
The extremist group has carried out near-daily attacks in Baghdad despite suffering military setbacks elsewhere in the country, including in the northern city of Mosul, where US-backed Iraqi forces have been waging a major operation since October.
Another four attacks in and around Baghdad on Thursday killed eight people and wounded around 30, police and medical officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
The explosion occurred in the same Bayaa neighbourhood in southern Baghdad where a car bomb blast killed at least four people on Tuesday.
Baghdad was rocked by a wave of deadly suicide bombings during the first days of 2017 but relatively few explosions had been reported since then until this week.
In a separate attack in Pakistan, police said a bomb ripped through a crowded Sufi shrine on Thursday, wjere at least 70 people died in the deadliest attack to hit the militancy-plagued country so far in 2017.
“So far 70 people have been killed and more than 150 wounded,” Inspector General of Police for Sindh province A.D. Khawaja told AFP. “Many wounded people are in critical condition and they will be shifted to Karachi as soon as Navy helicopters and C-130 plane reach nearest airport.”killing up to 35 people and wounding 60, officials said, the deadliest in a series of attacks to strike the insurgency-wracked country this week.
The bombing struck the shrine in the town of Sehwan in Sindh province, some 200 kilometres (124 miles) northeast of the provincial capital Karachi.
A police source said that a suicide bomber had entered the shrine and blown himself up among the devotees, adding the shrine was crowded on a Thursday, considered a sacred day for prayers.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack on their Aamaq news agency, saying a suicide bomber had targeted a “Shiite gathering” at the shrine.