12 May 2016

Three deadly bomb attacks hit Iraqi capital

8:33 am on 12 May 2016

Three suicide bombings have killed at least 80 people in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

People gather at the site of an explosion in Uraiba marketplace, Sadr City, Baghdad.

People gather at the site of the marketplace car bomb attack in Sadr City, Baghdad. Photo: AFP

The first ripped through a crowded market area in Sadr City, a Shi'ite Muslim area in northern Baghdad, killing 55 people during morning rush hour and wounding 68.

A few hours later two blasts went off in different neighbourhoods, leaving 25 people dead. One hit the entrance to Kadhimiya, a mostly Shi'ite Muslim district in the city's northwest, while the other went off in a commercial area in a predominately Sunni district.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Sadr City attack. In statements circulated online by supporters it said that a car bomb had aimed at Shi'ite militia fighters gathered in the area and two fighters wearing explosive vests targeted security forces in the later attacks.

The bomb at the market went off near a beauty salon in the bustling market and many of the victims were women including several brides who appeared to be getting ready for their weddings, sources told Reuters. The bodies of two men said to be grooms were found in an adjacent barber shop.

Damage from a car bombing in Sadr City, a Shiite area in northeastern Baghdad.

The car bombing damaged buildings in Sadr City, a Shi'ite area in northern Baghdad. Photo: AFP / Methaq Al Fayyadh / Citizenside

The three bombings were the deadliest attacks in the Iraqi capital this year.

Security has gradually improved in Baghdad, which was the target of daily bombings a decade ago, but violence against security forces and Shi'ite Muslim civilians is still frequent. Large blasts sometimes set off reprisal attacks against the minority Sunni community.

The fight against Islamic State, which seized about a third of Iraq's territory in 2014, has exacerbated a long-running sectarian conflict in Iraq mostly between Sunnis and the Shi'ite majority that came to power after the US-led invasion in 2003.

Since 2014, Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes have driven the group back in the western province of Anbar and are preparing for an offensive to retake the northern city of Mosul. A spokesman said on Wednesday Islamic State had lost two-thirds of the territory seized by the militants in 2014.

Yet the militants are still able to strike outside territory they control. The ultra-hardline Sunni jihadist group, which considers Shi'ites apostates, has claimed recent attacks across the country as well as a twin suicide bombing in Sadr City in February that killed 70 people.

- Reuters