Car bomb and IED blasts in Iraqi capital kill over 80 people in areas packed with families after fast-breaking time.
More than 80 people, including many children, were killed and hundreds wounded in bombings on two crowded commercial areas in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, hospital and police sources have said.
The powerful explosions early on Sunday came near the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when the streets were filled with young people and families out after sunset.
The vast majority of the casualties came in the first blast, as a truck packed with explosives blew up in the Karada district in central Baghdad, a predominantly Shia neigbourhood.
Sources told Al Jazeera at least 79 people were killed and 132 wounded in the explosion which targeted a busy shopping area.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the attack in the Karada district in an online statement, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, a US-based monitoring service.
Many of the victims were children, officials said, and there were fears the death toll could rise as more bodies could be lying under the rubble of devastated buildings.
In a separate blast, an improvised explosive device went off in a popular market in the mainly Shia neighbourhood of al-Shaab. Reports said at least at least five people were killed in that attack, and 16 were wounded.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the second bombing.
The overall death toll from the two explosions was initially reported much lower, at 23, and there were conflicting reports about the exact number of people killed.
The bombings were the deadliest in the country since Iraqi forces late last month dislodged ISIL fighters from Fallujah, the armed group’s stronghold just west of the capital that had served as a launch pad for such attacks.
Despite a string of territorial gains by Iraq’s ground forces against ISIL, the group has repeatedly shown it remains capable of launching attacks in Iraqi territory far from the frontlines.
ISIL still controls Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul.
Iraqi politician Mowaffak Baqer al-Rubaie said ISIL was “resorting to classic, traditional, terrorist acts” in response to losing territory in Iraq.
“They are so desperate to boost the morale of their fighters, many of whom are leaving the group daily. I think attacks like this will increase,” he told Al Jazeera.
Rubaie added, however, that ISIL would eventually fail in its mission of deepening sectarian tensions between Shia and Sunni communities.