A suicide car bombing has killed at least 39 Iraqis in a busy market in Baghdad’s Sadr City district, the interior ministry said.
The attack in the mainly Shia suburb on Monday was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.
The bomber lured poor labourers close to the bomb site, promising them work, before blowing himself up.
Bodies were scattered across the bloody pavement alongside fruit, vegetables and the labourers’ shovels and axes.
An official from the interior ministry said another 62 people were injured.
Asaad Hashim, an owner of a mobile phone store nearby, told the AP news agency that the labourers had been jostling around the bomber’s vehicle trying to get work for the day.
“Then a big boom came, sending them up into the air,” said the 28-year old, who suffered shrapnel wounds to his right hand. He blamed “the most ineffective security forces in the world” for failing to prevent the attack.
An angry crowd cursed the government, even after a representative of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr tried to calm them.
Late last month, Iraqi authorities started removing some of the security checkpoints in Baghdad, in a bid to ease traffic for the capital’s six million residents.
ISIL has carried out frequent bomb attacks on Shia areas in Baghdad, often targeting markets, restaurants and other crowded areas to maximise casualties.
Several smaller bombings elsewhere in the city on Monday killed another 20 civilians and wounded at least 70, medics and police officials said.
Gunmen wearing suicide vests also attacked two police stations in the central Iraqi city of Samarra on Monday, killing at least seven policemen, security sources said.
The attacks overshadowed a visit by French president Francois Hollande, who has offered to step up support for the country’s campaign against ISIL.
Speaking after a meeting Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Hollande said that he thought Iraqi forces would recapture the northern city of Mosul from ISIL within weeks.
US-backed Iraqi forces are currently fighting to push ISIL fighters from Mosul, the armed group’s last major stronghold in the country, but are facing fierce resistance.
Since the offensive began on October 17, Iraqi forces have retaken a quarter of the city in the biggest ground operation in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
As clashes continued in and around Mosul on Monday, ISIL also targeted on Monday military positions away from the main battlefield.
Fighters attacked an army barracks near Baiji, over 180km north of Baghdad, killing four soldiers and wounding 12 people, including Sunni tribal fighters, army and police sources said.
They seized weapons there and launched mortars at nearby Shirqat, forcing security forces to impose a curfew and close schools and offices in the town, according to local officials and security sources.
In a separate incident, gunmen broke into a village near Udhaim, 90km north of Baghdad, where they killed nine Sunni tribal fighters with shots to the head, police and medical sources said.