It is the deadliest attack in three years in the Iraqi capital. Nearly thirty people were killed on Thursday, January 21, by two suicide bombers who blew themselves up in a market in central Baghdad.
A first man set off his explosive belt in the midst of vendors and onlookers in the second-hand clothing market in Tayaran Square, the interior ministry said. While a crowd was forming to try to come to the aid of the victims, a second suicide bomber detonated his explosives, he added.
Latest assessment given by the official Iraqi news agency, Iraq News Agency: 28 dead and 73 injured. Doctors say they fear that the toll will continue to climb in the metropolis of ten million inhabitants, where the Ministry of Health has announced that it has placed all medical staff on maximum alert.
On the square, a busy crossroads of Baghdad, puddles of blood were visible, as were shreds of clothing torn by the explosions, a photographer from Agence France-Presse (AFP) noted. Soldiers and paramedics were deployed en masse on the square, the first blocking access and the second busy moving bodies or helping the wounded, in a ballet of ambulances with heady sirens.
An attack with exactly the same modus operandi had already mourned this same place, killing 31 people three years ago almost to the day. As in 2018, this attack comes as the authorities are discussing the organization of a legislative election, a deadline regularly accompanied by violence in Iraq.
Early elections for a new parliament had been promised by the government for June. But the authorities are currently proposing to postpone them until October in order to give the Election Commission more time to organize the poll.
However, many politicians say they doubt the holding of an early election – in June as in October – because the sine qua non is a dissolution of Parliament. However, only deputies can vote their own dissolution and none has given any assurance in this regard.
Thursday’s double suicide bombing was not immediately claimed, but this modus operandi has been used in the past by the Islamic State (IS) group, which occupied nearly a third of Iraq in 2014 before Baghdad claims to have won its war against the jihadists at the end of 2017.
Since then, jihadist cells have been holed up in the many mountainous and desert areas of the country. So far, however, ISIS has only claimed responsibility for small-scale attacks, usually carried out at night against military positions in isolated areas far from cities. The last attacks that killed several people in Baghdad date back to June 2019.
The attack comes as the United States has reduced its troops in Iraq to 2,500, a drop that “Reflects the increased capabilities of the Iraqi army”, in the words of Pentagon chief Christopher Miller. This reduction “Does not mean a change in US policy”, he insisted. “US and coalition forces remain in Iraq to ensure lasting defeat” of ISIS.
The United States is at the head of an international coalition deployed in Iraq since 2014 to fight ISIS. Almost all of the troops from the other member states of the coalition left the country in 2020 at the start of the pandemic due to the new coronavirus.