BAGHDAD (AP) — The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a rare and deadly twin suicide bombing that rocked central Baghdad killing over 30 and wounding dozens.
The group said the bombing “targeted apostate Shiites," on a statement circulating in an IS-affiliated website late Thursday. The statement said the first bombing was carried out by Abu Youssef al-Ansari and the second by Mohammed Arif al-Muhajir.
At least 32 people were killed and over 100 people wounded in the blasts on Thursday. Some were in severe condition. According to officials, the first suicide bomber cried out loudly that he was ill in the middle of the bustling market, prompting a crowd to gather around him — and that’s when he detonated his explosive belt. The second detonated shortly after.
The U.S.-led coalition recently ceased combat activities and is gradually drawing down its troop presence in Iraq, sparking fears of an IS resurgence. The group has rarely been able to penetrate the capital since being dislodged by Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led coalition in 2017.
The attack was the first in nearly three years to hit the capital. Elsewhere, in northern Iraq and the western desert, attacks continue and almost exclusively target Iraqi security forces.
An increase in attacks was seen last summer as militants took advantage of the government’s focus on tackling the coronavirus pandemic and exploited security gaps across disputed territory in northern Iraq.