NewsIraq market blast kills at least 21, wounds 33:...

Iraq market blast kills at least 21, wounds 33: medical source

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Bagdad, Iraq: A bomb blast in a popular market in Baghdad killed at least 21 people and injured 33 others on Monday, a medical source told AFP news agency.

The incident occurred in Sadr City, a densely populated majority-Shiite neighborhood, as customers flocked to the market to buy food in preparation for the Islamic celebration of Eid al-Adha.

Following the explosion, video footage of wounded victims and terrified individuals was uploaded on social media.

According to a source in the interior ministry, four women and four children were among those killed.

“A terror attack using a locally-made IED (improvised explosive device) in Woheilat Market in Sadr City, in east Baghdad, left several victims dead and others injured,” Iraq’s interior ministry said in a statement.

There was no immediate admission of guilt.

An investigation into the bombing has been begun by Baghdad Operations Command, a joint military, and interior ministry security authority.

In January, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a rare twin suicide attack in a crowded Baghdad market that killed 32 people.

That explosion was the deadliest strike in the city in three years.

During the sectarian bloodletting that followed the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and subsequently as IS marched across most of Iraq and targeted the city, such violence was frequent in Baghdad.

However, following years of deadly warfare, insurgent strikes in Baghdad’s capital have become relatively infrequent.

After a three-year battle, Iraq declared IS vanquished at the end of 2017.

Despite this, the group’s sleeper cells have continued to operate in the desert and mountains, primarily targeting security troops or state infrastructure in low-casualty strikes.

The US-led coalition that has been backing Iraq’s anti-ISIS battle has drastically reduced its troop levels in the last year, citing Iraqi forces’ increasing capabilities.

The US, which supplies the majority of the force, now has 2,500 troops in Iraq, down from 5,200 a year ago.

They are primarily responsible for training, drone surveillance, and air strikes, while Iraqi security forces are in charge of urban security.

Sadr City is named after revered Shiite cleric Mohammed al-Sadr, who was killed in the bombing on Monday.

His son, Moqtada Sadr, a fiery cleric with millions of followers and leadership of paramilitary groups, is a key figure in Iraqi politics who has frequently protested against US and Iranian involvement.

Sadr’s boycott of impending elections in October is a setback for Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi, who called for an early poll in response to pro-democracy campaigners’ demands.

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