Baghdad was rocked by two explosions ahead of the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the deadliest attack to hit Iraq's capital this year. "Islamic State" has claimed responsibility for one of the attacks.
The first explosion took place early on Sunday in the Karada shopping area, killing at least 213 people and wounding more than 180, Iraqi officials said.
A police officer said a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden pickup truck near a restaurant in the area. That blast claimed scores of lives, including 15 children, 10 women and six policemen. Previous estimates put the Karada death toll at 80, but that number slowly rose throughout Sunday.
The attack came as people gathered to shop ahead of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. The self-styled "Islamic State" (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had targeted a local gathering of Shiites, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced three days of mourning for the victims.
Shortly after the attack, an improvised explosive device went off in the northeastern Baghdad district of al-Shaab, killing at least five people and wounding 16. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the second bombing.
Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. The blast set several buildings in the area ablaze while firefighters struggled for 12 hours to extinguish the flames.
The US embassy in Baghdad expressed their condolences for the victims' families and friends in a statement posted on Facebook.
"The United States remains committed to supporting Iraq in its efforts to defeat Daesh and liberate all of Iraq," the statement read, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
The battle against IS
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the scene of the attack and vowed revenge, according to state broadcaster al-Iraqiya. He accused "terrorist gangs" of the bombing after "they were crushed on the battlefield."
Al-Abadi quickly left Karada, according to the independent news website Alsumaria News due to the backlash from the crowd gathered there. Bystanders blamed the supposed inefficiency of security forces for the bombing.
A video posted online showed an angry crowd throwing stones and jerry cans at the prime minister's convoy. One person in the video repeatedly called al-Abadi "a thief."
The Baghdad attacks come a week after Iraqi forces declared the neighboring city of Fallujah "fully liberated" from IS. Despite the government's recent victories against IS, the group has repeatedly managed to launch attacks far from the front lines.
IS also continues to control Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, where an offensive against the movement is expected to be mounted later in the year. The group is estimated to control 14 percent of Iraqi territory, according to the office of the prime minister.
rs, ss/bk (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)