Twin suicide bombing kills dozens in Baghdad

Twin suicide bombing kills dozens in Baghdad
Iraq's capital has witnessed its second militant attacks in three days, after two suspected IS suicide bombers killed more than 31 people in Baghdad on Monday
3 min read
15 January, 2018
The bombing comes as Iraq gears up for elections in May. [Getty]
A double suicide bombing in Baghdad killed more than 31 people on Monday in the second attack of its kind in three days.

The number of bombings in Baghdad has decreased significantly over the past few months since the country's security forces retook nearly all the territory once held by the Islamic State group.

The extremist group claimed near-daily bombings in Baghdad over much of last year when it still held large swaths of territory in the country.

The latest bombing comes after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's government declared victory over IS in December and as the country gears up for parliamentary elections.

"Two suicide bombers blew themselves up in Tayyaran Square in central Baghdad," said General Saad Maan, spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, which includes the army and the police.

A police officer reported "31 dead and 94 wounded".

Tayyaran Square is a bustling commercial centre and a place where day labourers gather in the early morning waiting for jobs. It has been the site of deadly attacks in the past.

Security forces cordoned off the scene of the bombing as ambulances gathered in the area, an AFP journalist said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but most such attacks in Iraq are the work of the Islamic State group.

Abadi held an emergency meeting with the Joint Operations Command and intelligence officials after the bombing, his office said, asking them to "eliminate IS sleeper cells and protect the security of civilians".

Analysts have warned that IS would increasingly turn to such attacks as it was pushed underground after losing territory spanning the Iraq-Syria border.

Elections in May

The bombings come as Iraq gears up for elections in May.

Abadi has said he will stand for re-election in the parliamentary polls as the head of a new coalition.

Abadi's newly created "Victory Alliance" will compete against the "State of Law" bloc of Nouri al-Maliki, his predecessor and a key rival who now holds the post of vice president.

Both Abadi and Maliki are members of the Shia Dawa party.

Abadi was little known when he became premier three years ago, after Maliki ceded power to him in August 2014 amid IS' sweeping offensive across the country.

Since taking over, Abadi has also rebuilt the armed forces and taken back disputed areas in the north from the Kurds, dashing their hopes for independence.

He has also succeeded in convincing the Hashd al-Shaabi, a Shia-dominated paramilitary force that helped fight IS, to join his "Victory Alliance".

The Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Units, are now seeking to become a key political player in Iraq after proving to be a formidable force on the battlefield.