The bombings demonstrated the extremists’ ability to mount significant attacks despite major battlefield losses, including the city of Fallujah, which was declared “fully liberated” from IS just over a week ago.
The deadliest attack took place in the central Karada district of Baghdad yesterday, where a suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laded pickup truck outside a crowded shopping centre, according to a police officer. He said the dead included 15 children, 10 women and six policemen.
The suicide bomber struck shortly after midnight, when families and young people were out on the streets after breaking their daylight fast for the holy month of Ramadan.
Most of the victims were inside a multi-storey shopping and amusement centre, where dozens burned to death or suffocated, officials said.
Within hours, IS claimed responsibility for the bombing in a statement posted online, saying they had deliberately targeted Shiite Muslims. It was posted on a militant website commonly used by the extremists.
At the scene, firefighters and civilians were seen carrying the dead away, their bodies wrapped in blankets and sheets.
Smoke billowed from the shopping centre, which was surrounded by the twisted and burned wreckage of cars and market stalls. A group of women were sitting on the pavement, crying for their loved ones.
In the second attack, an improvised explosive device went off in Baghdad’s northern Shaab area, killing five people and wounding 16, another police officer said.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bore the hallmarks of IS militants who often target commercial districts and Shiite areas.
The high death toll made it the second deadliest attack in the capital this year. On May 11, IS militants carried out three car bombings in Baghdad, killing 93 people.
Hours after the bombing, Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi and MPs visited the blast site. Video footage uploaded to social media showed an angry crowd, with people calling al-Abadi a “thief” and shouting at his convoy.
Eyewitnesses said the crowd pelted al-Abadi’s car with rocks, shoes and jerry cans.
Until the government launched its Fallujah operation, the prime minister had faced growing social unrest and anti-government protests sparked, in part, by popular anger at the lack of security in the capital.
IS still controls Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul as well as significant patches of territory in the country’s north and west. At the height of the extremist group’s power in 2014, IS rendered nearly a third of the country out of government control.