Death toll from Baghdad bombing rises above 200
This May 11, 2016 photo shows people looking at the damage following a car bomb in Baghdad. (AFP/File)
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The death toll from a weekend bombing in Baghdad has jumped to at least 213 - a sharp leap from Sunday's estimate of more than 100 - a Health Ministry source told dpa Monday.
The Sunday car bombing, which was claimed by the Daesh extremist group, hit crowds in Baghdad’s central district of Karada during the busy shopping period ahead of the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, the source said. More than 300 were also injured.
The bomb went off about 1 am (2200 GMT Saturday), a time when locals shop for presents for the Eid festival at the end of Ramadan and crowd into restaurants to eat the pre-dawn meal that prepares them for a day of fasting.
In an online statement circulated by Daesh supporters, which dpa could not verify, the extremist group alleged that a suicide bomber targeted a crowd of Shias. Daesh and its adherents regard Shia Muslims as heretics.
The group had earlier claimed numerous deadly bombings in mainly Shia areas of Baghdad.
Baghdad military operations spokesman General Saad Maan said following the attack that a group suspected of involvement in the Karada attack had been arrested, without giving details.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared on Sunday three days of official mourning after visiting the scene of the attack.
A video posted online showed an angry crowd throwing stones and jerry cans at al-Abadi's convoy.
The premier said that he "understands the emotional feelings and actions that took place in a moment of grief and anger."
The attack came a week after the Iraqi government announced that it had retaken full control of the mostly Sunni city of Fallujah, a key Daesh stronghold some 50 kilometres west of Baghdad.
In recent months, Iraq, backed by a US-led air alliance, has intensified a military campaign to drive Daesh from its strongholds in the country's mostly Sunni western and northern areas.
The group is also under pressure from Kurdish-led forces in neighbouring Syria, which are seeking to cut it off from the Turkish border, its last direct link to the outside world.
On June 18, government forces started a major attack near Daesh's northern stronghold of Mosul, which is Iraq's second-largest city.
By Ziad Haris
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