A wave of bombings struck Iraq’s capital Tuesday, killing at least 76 people and wounding up to 110 others.
Thirty-nine people were killed by a car bomb at an outdoor market in the northeastern Shiite-dominated neighborhood of Al-Shaab, a police source told NBC News, adding that up to 57 were wounded.
Meanwhile, 34 people were killed and 53 wounded when a mini-bus laden with explosives detonated in Sadr City, a Shiite area in eastern Baghdad, the source said.
A third bombing at a fruit-and-vegetable market in Baghdad’s southern Rasheed area also killed three people.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, which bore the hallmarks of ISIS.
The blasts follow the bloodiest week in Baghdad this year. ISIS claimed a series of bombings in and around the capital last week that killed 100 people and sparked popular anger against the government for failing to ensure security.
In the largest attack of the day, a car bomb struck a crowded market in Baghdad’s northeastern Shaab neighbourhood, killing 34 people there and wounded 75. Elsewhere in the Iraqi capital, at least 26 were killed.
So far, ISIS has claimed responsibility only for the deadliest of the attacks, the one in the Shaab neighbourhood.
In the Shaab neighbourhood, a roadside bomb first exploded outside the concrete blast walls surrounding an open-air market, followed by a suicide bomber who blew himself up as people gathered to help the victims of the first explosion.
A bit later, a car bombing struck a fruit-and-vegetable market in the neighbourhood of Dora, in southern Baghdad. A third bomb hit Baghdad’s district of Sadr City, killing at least 14 and injuring another 30 people. Police sources said the attack was conducted by a suicide bomber driving a car.
Commercial and public places in Shia-dominated areas are among the most frequent targets for the Sunni militants seeking to undermine the Iraqi government efforts to maintain security inside the capital.
In an online statement, ISIS has claimed responsibility for the first attack, saying the group targeted members of Shia militias. The Associated Press could not verify the authenticity of the statement but it was posted on a militant website commonly used by extremists.
Sunday attack at natural gas plant
Earlier Tuesday, Iraqi oil workers resumed work at a natural gas plant north of Baghdad, two days after a coordinated ISIS dawn assault left at least 14 people dead there, a senior Oil Ministry official said.
Sunday’s attack in the town of Taji, about 20 kilometres north of Baghdad, saw a suicide car bombing at the facility’s main gate, followed by several ISIS fighters breaking into the plant where they clashed with security forces for hours before the attackers were repelled.
The dead included six civilians and eight security forces while 27 Iraqi troops were wounded. Closed-circuit television images showed an explosion that sent thick black smoke rising above the plant. As flames engulfed the facility and nearby palm trees, pedestrians were seen running for cover. The top of one of the gas-processing units was blown off.
It took hours before Iraqi troops repelled the attackers.
On Tuesday, work at the plant’s three production lines returned “to normal levels,” said Deputy Oil Minister Hamid Younis.
The plant was back to full capacity of producing 30,000 cooking gas cylinders a day, he said, adding that Sunday’s attack had only damaged two gas storages and a few pipelines. Iraqi state TV showed workers in navy blue overalls filling metal and plastic cylinders on conveyor belts and forklift trucks loading cylinders into trucks.
The assault on Taji came as ISIS militants are being pushed back along several front lines in Iraq, prompting the Sunni extremists to increasingly turn to insurgency-style attacks to detract from their losses.
ISIS-claimed attacks have killed more than 140 people since last week in Iraq. In 2014, the ISIS declared an Islamic caliphate on the territory it holds in Iraq and Syria and at the height of its power was estimated to hold nearly a third of both Iraq and Syria. Iraq’s government says the group’s hold has since shrunk to 14 percent of Iraq’s territory.