BAGHDAD: A double car bomb attack on a crowded market in mainly-Shiite east Baghdad killed at least 56 on 18 February, medics in two city hospitals said, in the first blow to a major US-led security operation.
An official at the Kindi Hospital in downtown Baghdad said the emergency room had received 42 corpses and was treating 83 seriously wounded patients, including many women and children.Another medic, at the city’s Ibn Nafees hospital, said his teams had seen 14 dead and 20 critically wounded following the blasts.
Outside Kindi, ambulances and trucks continued to ferry in more dead and dying as wailing relatives demanded: “Where is the security plan?”A first explosion ripped through a crowded vegetable market, while at almost the same moment another explosives-laden car detonated a few hundred metres (yards) away near a row of electrical goods shops, witnesses said.
Desperate relatives scoured the blackened debris for wounded loved ones, while shell-shocked bystanders loaded the injured into civilian cars for transport to the city’s overworked emergency rooms.A large plume of smoke could be seen rising over the Baghdad Jadida or “New Baghdad” district shortly after the blast. Helicopters clattered overhead and Iraqi and US soldiers arrived to seal off the scene.
In a separate attack in nearby Sadr City, a suicide car bomber attacked a checkpoint mounted by Iraqi police commandos, killing one officer and wounding 10 more plus four passers-by, a security official said.Earlier, an unidentified sniper had shot dead three civilians shopping in the Fadhel district of the city.
Car bombs attacks in east Baghdad are the hallmark of Sunni extremists targeting Shiite civilians in the Iraqi capital’s vicious sectarian war.Last Monday, at least 79 people were killed in similar attacks on market areas, but the violence had tailed off since the launch of a large-scale security operation by US and Iraqi forces on Wednesday.
Shortly before the blasts the commander of Iraqi forces involved in the operation, General Abboud Gambar, had toured parts of Baghdad Jadida with reporters to demonstrate the progress made by his forces.
Separately, the US military confirmed its first fatal casualties since the launch of the plan, reporting that two soldiers were killed on Saturday in north Baghdad, one by an insurgent’s grenade, the other by small arms fire.