Attacks sign of Isis threat to Baghdad

By Duncan Gillies

At least 28 people were killed in Sadr City. Photo / AP
At least 28 people were killed in Sadr City. Photo / AP

Isis militants killed dozens of people in two major attacks on Baghdad yesterday, bombing a market and assaulting security forces on the city's outskirts in a demonstration of the group's ability to disrupt the Iraqi capital even as it loses ground.

Six car bombs were used in the early-morning attack on Abu Ghraib, a neighbourhood on the city's western edge where the militants seized a grain silo, Iraq's Ministry of Defence said. Later in the day, a double suicide bombing hit a market in the largely Shia district of Sadr City. By last night the death toll had reached 73.

The Abu Ghraib assault marked the most significant attack on the area in more than a year and came despite an ongoing operation by Iraqi security forces to push back militants from the city's western edge.

Still, Isis (Islamic State) has lost 30 per cent of its territory in the country since its 2014 peak, and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi yesterday said the group is lashing out because it is under pressure.

The Abu Ghraib neighbourhood is home to the notorious prison of the same name.

The bombing in Sadr City, and another on Friday that hit a Shia mosque in the Baghdad neighbourhood of Shoula, "increase the resolve and determination" of Iraqi security forces, Abadi said.

In Sadr City, a frequent target for bombings, residents used vegetable carts to transport the wounded from the scene, video footage showed. Many of the at least 28 dead were children, according to the Ministry of Defence.

In response to the bombing in the neighbourhood named after his father, the prominent cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on fighters with his militia, formerly the Mahdi Army but now known as the Peace Brigades, to be on standby to defend the capital.

"I call on the Government to be alert to the threat posed to Baghdad, rather than being busy collecting money," he said.

Sadr has been reasserting himself politically in recent weeks, holding a huge rally in the capital last week calling for reforms.

- Washington Post, Bloomberg

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