Death toll from IS-claimed blasts hits 149

Iraqi authorities raised the death toll to 149 from Sunday’s truck bombing at a bustling Baghdad commercial street as prime minister Haider al-Abadi ordered new security measures in the country’s capital.

The bombing, claimed by IS, was the deadliest terror attack in Iraq in a year and one of the worst single bombings in more than a decade of war and insurgency. 

It underscored the IS group’s ability to strike the Iraqi capital despite a string of battlefield losses elsewhere in the country and fuelled public anger toward the political leadership.

The suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laden vehicle in Baghdad’s mostly Shia Karada district, a favourite avenue for shoppers — especially during the holy month of Ramadan, with the streets and footpaths filled with young people and families after they had broken their daylight fast.

Police and health officials said yesterday the toll reached 149 but that it was likely to increase even further as rescuers are still looking for missing people.

At least 192 people were wounded, the officials said.

Hours after the bombing, al-Abadi visited the attack site in Karada, but a furious mob surrounded his convoy, yelling expletives, hurling rocks and shoes at the prime minister’s cars and calling him a “thief”.

In a statement issued later, al-Abadi ordered that a scandal-ridden bomb detection device be pulled from service. 

He also ordered the reopening of an investigation on the procurement of the British-made electronic wands, called ADE 651s.

In 2010, British authorities arrested the director of the British company ATSC Ltd. on fraud charges, prompting Iraqis to open their own investigation on alleged corruption charges against some officials.

Iraqi authorities made some arrests, but the investigation went nowhere and the device remained in use.

Along with taking away the electronic wand detectors, al-Abadi also ordered that X-ray systems be installed at the entrances of provinces. 

He demanded the upgrades of the capital’s security belt, increased aerial scanning, a step-up in intelligence efforts and the division of responsibility among security units.

Iraqi and foreign officials have linked the recent increase in IS attacks with the string of losses IS has faced in Iraq in the past year.


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