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Two more car bombs rock Baghdad

May 11, 2016

The death toll has risen in Baghdad after two further car bombs, with at least 90 people killed. Earlier, an SUV loaded with explosives blew up near a beauty salon in Baghdad's Sadr City.

People gather at the scene of a car bomb attack in Baghdad's mainly Shi'ite district of Sadr City, Iraq, May 11, 2016 (Photo: Reuters/W. al-Okili)
Image: Reuters/W. al-Okili

One suicide bomber hit the entrance to Kadhimiya, a Shiite-majority district in Baghdad, killing at least 18 people. The other bomb targeted a commercial area in a predominantly Sunni district in the city's west, leaving seven people dead.

Earlier Wednesday, a car bomb exploded at a crowded Baghdad market at rush hour, killing at least 60 people. The bomb hit near a beauty salon and most of the victims were women, according to police and hospital sources cited by Reuters news agency.

The attack also wounded at least 66 people, many of whom are still in critical condition.

"Islamic State" (IS) said it was behind the first attack, but no group has claimed responsibility for the later bombings.

Jan Kubis, the UN's top envoy in Iraq, condemned the bloodshed. "These are cowardly terrorist attacks on civilians who have done nothing but going about their normal daily lives," he said.

Demand for reforms

Dozens of protesters gathered at the bombing sites, blaming Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi's government for the carnage.

"The state is in a conflict over (government positions) and the people are the victims," said Abu Ali, a Baghdad resident. "The politicians are behind the explosion."

Another citizen, Abu Muntadhar, echoed his anger.

"The state is responsible for the bombings that hit civilians," the local resident said. The politicians "should all get out," he added.

Influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is demanding the government to step down and initiate a process of reforms. He has a huge following in the working class neighborhood of Sadr City, which was named after his father.

IS targeting Shiites

Baghdad's Sadr City, where the first bombing occurred, is a mainly Shiite district in the north of Iraq's capital.

The Sunni-dominated IS group said it targeted a group of Shiite militiamen.

Previously, IS had claimed responsibility for twin bombings that killed 70 people at the Sadr City market in late February.

Iraqi security forces have pushed out the Sunni militia out of large swaths of territory in recent months. However, IS still holds Mosul and several other cities, and is launching terror attacks on government-controlled areas.

The group considers Shiite Muslims to be heretics.

shs/kms (AP, Reuters, AFP)