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Sun 3 Jul 2016 06:14 PM

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Nearly 120 killed in overnight Baghdad bombings

Angry Baghdadis pelt PM Abadi's convoy with stones following deadliest attack since Falluja recaptured from ISIL

Nearly 120 killed in overnight Baghdad bombings
(Sabah Arar/AFP/Getty Images)

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 US-backed Iraqi
forces last month scored a major victory when it dislodged ISIL 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 deadly 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. ISIL claimed
responsibility for the attack in a statement circulated online by
supporters of the ultra-hard line Sunni group. It said the blast was
a suicide bombing.

 

Karrada was busy at the
time as Iraqis eat out and shop late during the Muslim fasting month
of Ramadan, which ends next week with the Eid al-Fitr festival.

Videos posted on social
media showed people running after the SUV convoy of Abadi as he
departed 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.

Another video posted on
social media showed a large blaze in the main street of Karrada, a
largely Shi'ite district with a small Christian community and a few
Sunni mosques.

Reuters TV footage
taken in the morning showed at least four buildings severely damaged
or partly collapsed, including a shopping mall believed to be the
target, and gutted cars scattered all around.

The toll climbed during
the day as rescuers pulled out more bodies from under the rubble and
people succumbed from their injuries.

Comments posted on
social media accused security forces of continuing to use fake bomb
detectors at checkpoints filtering traffic in Baghdad, five years
after the scandal broke out about a device commonly known as the
'magic wand'.

A police officer in
Baghdad confirmed these hand-held ADE 651 detectors were still in
use. They were sold to Iraq and other nations by a British
businessman who was jailed for 10 years in 2013 in the United Kingdom
for endangering lives for profit.

 

In a second attack, a
roadside explosive device also blew up around midnight in a market in
al-Shaab, a Shi'ite district in the north of the capital, killing at
least two people, police and medical sources said.

Iraqi forces on June 26
declared the defeat of IS militants in Falluja, a historic bastion of
Sunni insurgency, following a month of fighting.

Now the militants were
"trying to compensate for their humiliating defeat in Falluja,"
said Jasim al-Bahadli, a former army officer and security analyst in
Baghdad.

"It was a mistake
for the government to think that the source of the bombings was
restricted to just one area," he said. "There are sleeper
cells that operate independently from each other."

Falluja was the first
Iraqi city to fall to ISIL in January 2014. Abadi said the next
target of the Iraqi forces is Mosul, the de facto capital of the
militants and the largest city under their control in both Iraq and
Syria.