ISIS has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing that ripped through a farmer’s market early Thursday morning. The market was located in the predominantly Shiite Jameela district in Sadr City, which is part of Baghdad. Reports place the casualty numbers between 55 and 80 and those injured between 150 to 200. The bombing is the latest attack in Baghdad, where deadly incidents take place almost daily. Despite the routine violence, the death toll of today’s bombing is the highest in a single incident since 2007.
At first, no one claimed responsibility for the attack, but shortly after, ISIS published a statement online saying it was responsible for the bloodshed. A local merchant told U.K.’s newspaper The Guardian that, “The explosion happened in the morning around 8:30 A.M. inside Jamila market. It was a big [refrigeration truck] 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.” Local authorities say the bombing was timed when the market was most crowded, with villagers stocking up on food for the weekend.
Residents of the community did their best to help the victims, transporting the wounded to nearby hospitals in ambulances or in personal cars. They also carried the dead from the incinerated market in trash bags. Firetrucks rushed to the scene and firefighters were watering the area long after the explosion took place.
ISIS currently has a hold on approximately one-third of Iraq. The militant fighters regard Shiite Muslims as “apostates” or those who have renounced “true Islam” and its principles. ISIS has vowed to attack Baghdad, but volunteer Shiite troops have been relatively successful in deterring significant attacks on Iraq’s capital. Despite the efforts of the Shiite people, attacks are becoming more common.
In July, ISIS attacked a popular market in the Diyala province killing more than 115 people. NPR’s Alice Fordham reports that, “After ISIS switched from being largely an insurgent movement to governing swaths of territory in Iraq, the number and size of car bombs in cities dwindled slightly. But in recent months there have been several so-called spectacular attacks including two in the province of Diyala, which killed dozens of people.”
A local Sadr City merchant feels that today’s bombing was the fault of government officials threatened by corruption reforms and demonstrations that are due to resume on Friday in Baghdad. The merchant, going by the name Ali, stated that, “Every time [Iraqi government officials] feel that there is a threat to their positions, we end up with a big explosion. I don’t see any difference between ISIS and them. The Iraqi politicians use people like ISIS to keep us quiet.”
The dean of Nahrain University in Baghdad, Dr. Ammar al-Fayadh, claimed that today’s attack did not really say much about violence patterns. He observed that, “Iraqis have gone through so much, to the level that they can’t measure anymore the scale of violence and whether the attacks are bigger or smaller than before. They have been exposed to all sorts of violence and terror and most of them are numb.”