A suicide bomber killed 26 Iraqis in an attack today that targeted a Shia religious institution in Baghdad. From Reuters.
A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-packed car outside a Shi’ite Muslim office in central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 26 people and wounding more than 190 in an attack bearing the hallmarks of Iraq’s al Qaeda affiliate.
The bombing on a Shi’ite religious office comes at a sensitive time, with the country’s fractious Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs locked in a crisis that threatens to unravel their power-sharing deal and spill into sectarian tensions.
The attacker targeted the Shi’ite Endowment – a government-run body that manages Shi’ite religious and cultural sites – leaving dead and wounded along a main street nearby and blasting part of its headquarters to rubble, police said.
“It was a powerful explosion, dust and smoke covered the area. At first I couldn’t see anything, but then I heard screaming women and children,” said policeman Ahmed Hassan, who was at a nearby police station when the bomb went off.
“We rushed with other police to help … the wounded were scattered all around, and there were body parts on the main street,” he said.
While no group has claimed credit for today’s suicide attack, it was likely carried out by al Qaeda in Iraq. AQI spokesman spokesman Abu Muhammad al ‘Adnani has advocated the targeting of Shias as recently as the end of February [see Threat Matrix report, Al Qaeda in Iraq rails at Shias, claims deadly attacks].
AQI and allied terror groups such as Ansar al Islam have been unable to conduct attacks in Baghdad and wider Iraq with the frequency and ferocity they did during their peak strength in 2006-07, but can occasionally pull off coordinated attacks and suicide bombings. The last coordinated attack in Baghdad took place on May 31, when insurgents killed 18 Iraqis and wounded more than 50 in six bombings. The last major nationwide attack took place on April 19, when al Qaeda in Iraq killed 36 people in bombings and suicide attacks in 10 cities throughout the country.
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