Bomb Attacks Kill 69 in Baghdad; Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Suicide Attack on Shiite Militia

IRAQ, Baghdad : An Iraqi man stands next to debris at the site of a suicide bombing in the Shaab area in northern Baghdad on May 17, 2016. Interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan said the attack was carried out by a female suicide bomber, while a police colonel said a …

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for one of three bombings that hit Baghdad on Tuesday, which killed at least 69 people and wounded over 100 more, according to the Associated Press.

“A suicide bombing claimed by Islamic State in a marketplace in the northern, mainly Shi’ite Muslim district of al-Shaab killed 38 people and wounded over 70, while a car bomb in nearby Shi’ite Sadr City left at least 19 more dead and 17 wounded,” reports Reuters.

“Another car bomb, in the mixed Shi’ite-Sunni southern neighbourhood of al-Rasheed, killed six and wounded 21, the sources said, in what a military spokesman described as a suicide attack,” the Reuters report adds.

The attack in al-Shaab was reportedly carried out by a terrorist who planted a bomb, then detonated the explosives-laden vest he was wearing. In its claim of responsibility for the attacks, ISIS said its operative attacked Shiite militia with hand grenades before detonating his suicide vest.

The BBC counted four bomb blasts altogether in Baghdad on Tuesday, three of them striking Shia districts, while the fourth hit a “mixed Shia-Sunni area.” ISIS practices a form of Shia Islam and regards Shiites as apostates.

The bomb targets included three marketplaces and a restaurant. According to the BBC, the al-Shaab attack was especially diabolical, with the bomber waiting for helpful witnesses to cluster around the injured victims of his first device before attacking them with his suicide vest.

Local authorities have claimed the al-Shaab bomber was a woman, although ISIS insisted it was a man when it claimed responsibility for the attack.

Other attacks in and around Baghdad killed over 200 people last week, putting pressure on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to “resolve a political crisis or risk losing control of parts of Baghdad even as the military wages a counter-offensive against Islamic State in Iraq’s north and west with the help of a U.S.-led coalition,” as Reuters puts it.

The political crisis in question concerns Abadi’s attempt to change out some of his cabinet ministers, as part of an anti-corruption drive. The Prime Minister has said that resistance to his efforts is paralyzing the Baghdad government and making it difficult to combat the Islamic State.

However, officials from both the Iraqi government and the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS have said these suicide bombings in Baghdad are a sign of the Islamic State’s desperation. The group is “increasingly turning to insurgency-style attacks to detract from their losses,” striking at civilians because they are “losing ground on the battlefield,” according to officials cited by the AP and BBC.