A rare, deadly suicide bomb attack in a busy Baghdadi market killed and wounded dozens of civilians Thursday afternoon. The death toll is expected to rise.
A twin suicide bombing at a Baghdad market killed at least 28 people and injured 75 others on Thursday, Iraqi state media reports. At least seven people are still missing.
Two suicide bombers detonated their vests when security forces pursued them through the busy Tayaran square market. An interior ministry spokesman tweeted that the second bomber set off his device after people gathered around those dead and wounded from the first bombing.
There was no immediate claim for the bombings, which have become rare in the Iraqi capital since the Islamic State was largely defeated in the country in 2017. The last took place in Jan. 2018, according to The Associated Press.
Iraq’s interior ministry told NPR that 32 were dead, while state media said the number of people killed was 28.
Although ISIS has been greatly weakened, with the help of Iraq’s international allies, militant groups still conduct operations. Earlier this week, the electricity ministry reported coordinated attacks on power lines, power stations and other infrastructure, causing millions of dollars worth of damage to the already-shaky electricity sector.
The Trump administration reduced troop numbers in Iraq, but about 2,500 U.S. soldiers remain in the country. Incoming Defense Secretary General Lloyd Austin said in his confirmation hearing that he remains concerned about the threat ISIS poses inside Iraq and beyond.
“I support maintaining a small number of U.S. troops to carry out a limited mission focused on advising and assisting Iraqi counter-terrorism forces to deal with the continuing threat from ISIS,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Iraq analyst and Baghdad resident Hamzeh Hadad says the attack was shocking because the overall security situation in the Iraqi capital has improved dramatically in recent years. Fewer checkpoints and blast walls mean, “you’re slowly seeing the beauty of the city come back to life,” he says. “Things are busier again, markets are bustling.”
Hadad moved from Canada back to Iraq in 2019, partly because of the danger of such attacks appeared to have been reduced.
“So to have something like this re-occur — that hasn’t happened in a few years — is really shocking and worrying for everyday Iraqis,” he says.