At least 13 people lost their lives and 24 were injured after an Islamic State-claimed explosion rocked a shop serving ice cream in central Baghdad just after midnight on Tuesday. The moment of the blast was captured on CCTV footage.
Iraqi officials said the powerful explosion in Baghdad’s Karrada district originated from a vehicle, rigged with IEDs, that was parked nearby. The assailants reportedly triggered the bomb remotely. The blast hit the shop shortly after midnight, at the time many Muslims break their fast observed during daylight hours of the holy month of Ramadan.
Footage captured by a CCTV camera and uploaded online revealed the terrifying moment the bomb went off. It shows a huge blast lighting up the night sky and then starting a fire in the street.
Videos depicting the gruesome aftermath of the attack showed people covered in blood lying on the ground with some running in panic, fires raging and a plumes of smoke rising from the site. Several children, some of them injured and visibly distressed, can be seen wandering at the site of the explosion near the dead bodies. Another heart-wrenching video posted by Hayder al-Khoei shows a man standing over a lifeless body and shouting, “He’s getting married in two weeks!”
WARNING: GRAPHIC FOOTAGE
The brutal attack was claimed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL), AP reported. The terrorist group reportedly justified targeting the shop with civilians by labelling it a Shia gathering place. Karrada is an upscale neighborhood boasting large Shia population and is also one of the two major Christian districts in the Iraqi capital.
ISIS claims responsibility for the blast that hit Al Faqma Ice Cream shop in Baghdad, calls the shop “a gathering of Shi’a infidels”.
— Rogue Observer (@Observer46664) 29 мая 2017 г.
It is not the first time the district has fallen victim to the deadly terrorist attacks that coincide with Ramadan.
A series of large-scale terror attacks hit the district last year. On July 2, 2016, a large truck driven by a suicide bomber rocked the district’s shopping area just after midnight, when entire families were breaking their fast in malls and cafes bustling with people. Over 300 people died in the attack, which led to many others being trapped in the malls.
US Special Presidential Envoy for Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, Brett McGurk, condemned the attack, saying that it was aimed at “children & families enjoying time together at an ice cream shop,” and vowing to “stand with Iraq against this evil.”
Meanwhile, the attack came as the Iraqi forces backed by the US-led coalition have been pushing to liberate terrorist enclave comprising Mosul’s Old City center and three districts bordering the western bank of the Tigris.
“The joint forces have begun liberating the remaining districts,” Iraqi military said on Saturday, announcing the start of the operation, which main target was declared to be the recapture of the famous al-Nuri mosque where the ISIS kingpin Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed his “caliphate” in 2014.
The offensive to recapture Mosul, once the IS stronghold in Iraq and its second most populous city, has been dragging on for eight months as civilian casualties are piling up.
The bulk of them result from the US-led campaign airstrikes on IS positions in Mosul. Last week, a coalition investigation into the March 17 airstrike on Mosul’s Al Jadidah district found that over 100 civilians were killed as result of the airstrike targeting two ISIS snipers.
“Civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation,” US Defense Secretary James Mattis on Sunday, as he pledged to use “annihilation tactics” against the militants in Syria and Iraq.