Middle East

Iraq conflict: Baghdad ice cream parlour hit by suicide attack

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Media captionAftermath of bomb attack on Baghdad ice cream parlour

Two car bomb attacks in the heart of the Iraqi capital Baghdad by so-called Islamic State have killed at least 26 people and wounded dozens, sources say.

The first happened just after midnight (21:00 GMT on Monday) at an ice cream shop in the Karrada district, where a crowd had broken their Ramadan fasts.

A few hours later there was a second blast near the Shuhada Bridge, about 6km (4 miles) to the north in Shawaka.

IS said both bombings had targeted "gatherings" of Shia Muslims.

The Sunni jihadist group considers them apostates subject to punishment by death.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The al-Faqma ice cream parlour had been packed with customers
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Debris from the car bomb was still being collected on Tuesday morning

During Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, many Baghdad residents stay up late and eat out at restaurants and cafes.

Dozens of people were reportedly sitting on benches outside the popular al-Faqma ice cream parlour in Karrada, a predominantly Shia commercial area, when a car parked on the street nearby exploded.

A video posted on social media showed a dazed young girl wandering around in the aftermath of the blast as a man screamed for help, while photos showed ice cream cups scattered on the bloodstained pavement.

Health ministry sources told the BBC that 15 people were killed and 60 wounded.

One victim was a 12-year-old Melbourne girl who was in Baghdad to visit her grandfather, the Australian government said.

"I extend our deepest sympathies to her family, her loved ones, her fellow students in [Melbourne suburb] Broadmeadows," Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.

The US envoy to the multinational coalition against IS, Brett McGurk, condemned the attack and expressed solidarity with Iraq.

"[IS] terrorists tonight in Baghdad target children & families enjoying time together at an ice cream shop. We stand w/Iraq against this evil," he wrote on Twitter.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Shops were destroyed by the second bombing, near a government office in Karkh
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The area had been busy with Iraqis who had stayed out late to shop

In Tuesday's second attack, a car bomb was detonated during the morning rush hour near the headquarters of the government's pensions directorate on Shuhada Square, next to Shuhada Bridge, officials said.

An interior ministry source said 11 people were killed and 35 wounded.

Ramadan, which began on Saturday, is often marked by increased violence in Iraq.

Last July, at least 324 people were killed in a truck bomb attack on a shopping centre in Karrada, where families were buying new clothes for Eid al-Fitr.

IS said it was behind the bombing, the deadliest single incident in Baghdad since the US-led invasion in 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Tuesday's attacks come as Iraqi security forces continue an offensive to recapture the northern city of Mosul, the last major IS urban stronghold in the country.

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