BAGHDAD: A massive truck bomb ripped through a popular Baghdad food market in a predominantly Shia Muslim neighborhood in the early morning hours on Thursday, killing at least 82 people, police officials said.
The bomb was placed in a refrigerated lorry and driven to the heart of a farmers market in Sadr City in the early hours of Thursday morning. A witness quoted by the Guardian, London said, that the bomber had beckoned people to the truck by telling them he had cheap tomatoes to sell.
Hospitals in Baghdad said at least 200 people had been injured in the blast. The marketplace in the Jamila district of Sadr City an impoverished quarter of north-eastern Baghdad had been bustling with buyers ahead of the weekend.
A website post purported to be by Isis said the attack had killed charlatans in the Shia community.
Shia communities have been constant targets of attacks by the shadowy extremist group that saw phenomenal and sudden rise over past few years.
ISIS targets Shia neighborhoods with the goal of sending a message to the government in Baghdad.
Ali, 28, a merchant from Jamila said: The explosion happened in the morning around 8.30am inside market. It was a big lorry full of tomatoes and the driver was shouting in the middle of the market that he had very cheap [produce]. So people came close to him and then he blew himself up.
A minibus driver, Hassan Hamid, said he driving not far from the area when the force of the explosion threw his vehicle about 10 meters (yards) off onto the sidewalk.
This is the strongest explosion I ever saw in my life,” said the 37-year old father of three, speaking from his hospital bed where he was being treated for shrapnel injuries. “I saw some cars were thrown into the sky and a fire erupted all over the place.”
Sadr City has been the scene of regular explosions throughout the insurgency, which has used ruthless violence in a bid to strip power from the Shia majority rulers who replaced the ousted Saddam Hussein.
Dr Ammar al-Fayadh, the dean of Nahrain University in the capital, said Thursdays blast, although bigger than previous attacks, did not say much about patterns of violence.
Iraqis have gone through so much, to the level that they cant measure anymore the scale of violence and whether the attacks are bigger or smaller than before, he said. They have been exposed to all sorts of violence and terror and most of them are numb.
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