Maybe Baghdad residents would have been more wary a few years ago. Authorities say a suicide bomber drew a crowd around him at a busy marketplace Thursday morning by pretending to be ill, then detonated his explosives, reports CNN. Soon after, a second suicide bomber struck nearby. The AP puts the immediate death toll at 32, with more than 100 wounded. While suicide attacks were once common in the Iraqi capital's commercial center, this is the first one in three years, reports Reuters. No group has claimed responsibility, but authorities are blaming a sleeper cell of the Islamic State. The group was uprooted from much of the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria in 2019, notes the Wall Street Journal, but it remains a presence.
“The attacker was standing in the middle of a crowd and pretended to be sick, and then blew himself up and tore people to pieces,” a street vendor tells Reuters. The second blast went off as people gathered in the area, according to most accounts. A military spokesperson says security forces received a tip and were actually chasing the bombers through the marketplace at some point before the explosions. The US announced a major drawdown of forces in Iraq in the final days of the Trump administration, and the Journal notes that the twin blasts underscore the challenges Iraq is facing in the near future. "This is yet another instance of terrorists killing fellow Iraqis & harms those who seek peace," tweeted Col. Wayne Marotto, spokesman for the US-led coalition against the Islamic State.
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