x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

At least 57 Iraqi Shiites killed as car bombings tear through Baghdad

Attacks thought to be carried out by Iraqi branch of Al Qaeda.

Iraqi firefighters extinguish a fire at the scene of a car bomb attack in Baghdad.
Iraqi firefighters extinguish a fire at the scene of a car bomb attack in Baghdad.

BAGHDAD // A wave of car bombings tore through mostly Shiite neighbourhoods of the Baghdad area yesterday, leaving at least 57 dead in the latest outburst of an unusually intense wave of bloodshed roiling Iraq.

The blasts are the latest indication that Iraq's security is rapidly deteriorating as sectarian tensions exacerbated by months of Sunni-led anti-government protests and the war in neighbouring Syria are on the rise.

Iraq has been hit by a wave of bloodshed that has killed more than 300 people in the past two weeks.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for yesterday's bloodshed, but the attacks bore the hallmarks of Al Qaeda's Iraqi arm. The group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq, frequently uses car bombs and coordinated blasts in an effort to undermine Iraqis' confidence in the Shiite-led government.

One of the attacks happened when back-to-back blasts struck an open-air market in the predominantly Shiite Al Maalif area, killing six and wounding 12 others, two police officers said.

The attack came less than an hour after another car bomb exploded in the busy commercial Sadoun Street in central Baghdad. It killed five civilians and wounded 14 others, two other police officers said. Among the wounded were four policemen who were in a nearby checkpoint.

The street is one of the major hubs in the capital for clinics, pharmacies and shops. Firefighters were struggling to extinguish the flames from the debris of the car bomb as police sealed off the area.

Several shops were damaged or burnt. Elsewhere, police said a car bomb went off in the capital's eastern New Baghdad area as they were waiting for explosives experts to dismantle it, killing a civilian and wounding nine others.

In the northern Sabi Al Boor neighbourhood, police said eight civilians were killed and 26 wounded when another car bomb exploded in a market.

Meanwhile, in the southwestern neighbourhood of Bayaa, another car bomb explosion in a market killed six civilians and wounded 16. In northern Baghdad's Kazimiyah district, a car bomb blew up near a bus and taxi stop, killing four and wounding 11 others. And in Baghdad's central Sadria area, a car bomb went off in a market and killed three civilians and wounded 11.

Authorities also reported 12 killed and 35 wounded when two bombs exploded in the eastern Habibiya neighbourhood. In the eastern Jisr Diyala area, a car bomb killed 5 and wounded 12. And in the northern Shaab area, a car bomb killed four and wounded nine.

In Madain, about 20 kilometres south of central Baghdad, a car bomb killed three and wounded nine.