Two bomb blasts have killed at least 70 people at a market just outside Baghdad and security forces have been targeted elsewhere in one of Iraq’s bloodiest days in recent weeks.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group claimed responsiblity for Sunday’s attacks, the deadliest of which hit the predominantly Shia neighbourhood of Sadr City, just north of the Iraqi capital Baghad.
The explosions, caused by two roadside bombs, left 100 people injured in addition to the deaths.
Battle for Iraq continues in Tikrit
Al Jazeera’s Waleed Ibrahim, reporting from Baghdad, said the explosions occurred in a very busy market area.
“According to sources, the first bomb exploded on a motorcycle followed by a suicide bomber blowing himself up as people gathered to help the injured from the first blast,” he said.
“It’s a Shia-majority area that is subject to heavy security measures, but as we can see those measures aren’t quite enough to stop such attacks from happening.”
The Baghdad blasts occurred just hours after government troops and policemen came under attack from ISIL, which has seized territory both in Iraq and Syria.
In Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, a number of policemen were kidnapped after an attack there.
A nearby village was also raided by ISIL, military sources told Al Jazeera.
They said both sites are now under ISIL control.
In yet another incident on Sunday, 18 policemen were killed in an ISIL assault on military barracks near Fallujah in the western Anbar province.
The attack happened close to water-distribution plants in the town of Amiriyat al-Fallujah.
Military sources said a number of policemen were killed in an ISIL suicide car bombing.
During the Abu Ghraib assault, a number of tribal fighters were abducted along with the policemen to unknown locations, sources said on condition of anonymity, citing security concerns.
However, Baghdad’s operations command centre denied that any of its forces were taken prisoner, saying two suicide attackers were killed during what it called a foiled assault.
Abu Ghraib – on the western outskirts of Baghdad – is considered administratively to be part of Baghdad city.
For more than a year now, ISIL has wanted to get closer to Baghdad city and Abu Ghraib prison.
The jail has gained notoriety since revelations that US troops abused Iraqi prisoners there after the 2003 invasion.
ISIL’s offensive near Baghdad came after government forces took back significant territory in Anbar, which largely remains one of the group’s strongholds.
Iraq’s government announced in late December that its troops had recaptured the provincial capital Ramadi, but fighting with ISIL has continued on the city’s outskirts since then.
Source: Al Jazeera