Nearly 120 people were killed and 200 wounded in two bombings overnight in Baghdad, most of them in a busy shopping area as residents celebrated Ramadan, police and medical sources said on Sunday.
The attack on the shopping area of Karrada is the deadliest since U.S.-backed Iraqi forces last month scored a major victory when it dislodged Islamic State from their stronghold of Falluja, an hour’s drive west of the capital. It is also the deadliest so far this year.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had ordered the offensive after a series of bombings in Baghdad, saying Falluja served as a launchpad for such attacks on the capital. However, bombings have continued.
A convoy carrying Abadi who had come to tour the site of the bombings was pelted with stones and bottles by residents, angry at what they felt were false promises of better security.
A refrigerator truck packed with explosives blew up in the central district of Karrada, killing 115 people and injuring at least 200. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement circulated online by supporters of the ultra-hardline Sunni group. It said the blast was a suicide bombing.
The White House on Sunday said the attack only strengthened the United States’ resolve to confront Islamic State. “We remain united with the Iraqi people and government in our combined efforts to destroy ISIL,” said the White House statement, referring to Islamic State.
Videos posted on social media showed people running after the SUV convoy of Abadi as he left Karrada after touring the scene, throwing pavement stones, bottles of water, empty buckets and slippers, venting their anger at the inability of the security forces to protect the area.
Abadi declared three days of mourning for the victims, according to state-run media that also cited him saying he understood the angry reaction of residents.