Anger is growing in Baghdad over the government’s failure to protect civilians, after a devastating bombing in a crowded commercial area in the Iraqi capital killed more than 200 people, including many children.
The powerful explosion early on Saturday near the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when the streets were filled with young people and families out after sunset.
The death toll from the blast in Karada, a predominantly Shia neighborhood in central Baghdad, rose to over 200 on Monday morning, as the bodies of more victims were pulled from the rubble.
Nearly two days after a suicide truck bomb ripped through Baghdad, families are still hoping that rescuers searching through the rubble can locate the bodies of their loved ones.
Crews are still on the scene in the Karrada neighborhood where the blast occurred, trying to pull bodies from the devastation.
And 81 of the bodies are so charred, DNA testing will need to be conducted in order to identify them, al-Rubaye said.
Looking for survivors
One couple at the scene was searching for their teenage son who’d gone to a cafe with his friends to celebrate his birthday.
Hundreds were wounded when a lorry packed with explosives blew up in a busy shopping street filled with people after they had broken their fast.
ISIS group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement circulated by its supporters online.
The group, which has claimed numerous deadly bombings in mainly Shia areas of Baghdad, alleged that a suicide bomber targeted a crowd of Shia Muslims.
There were fears the death toll could rise even further.
A second bomb exploded Sunday at an outdoor market in the Shaab neighborhood of southeastern Baghdad, killing one person and wounding five others, police said.
ISIS said it would carry out more terror attacks during Ramadan. The Baghdad bombing came just days after massacres at a cafe in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, and security targets in Yemen. There have also been recent suicide attacks in Jordan and Lebanon.
Blames for the government
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi condemned the bombing and declared three days of mourning across the country after visiting the scene of the attack.
Video footage posted online showed people jeering and throwing objects at his convoy.
Later on Sunday, protesters marched from Karada to Abadi’s house.
Many Iraqis blame their political leadership for lapses in security in Baghdad that have allowed large amounts of explosives to make their way past multiple checkpoints and into neighbourhoods packed with civilians.
“All the politicians in Iraq are responsible for these blasts, including Abadi,” a woman in Karada told local media.
“We can’t enjoy the Eid; if it isn’t ISIS, it’s al-Qaeda, and if it isn’t the two, it’s the filthy corrupt politics in this country.
“We are being targeted while they are sitting safe and sound in their palaces. They are the ones who are allowing ISIS to come here and murder people.”