Suicide attacks kill 23 people at Baghdad market

Citizens inspect the scene after a car bomb explosion at a crowded outdoor market in the Iraqi capital's eastern district of Sadr City, on Sunday. (AP)
Updated 09 January 2017

Suicide attacks kill 23 people at Baghdad market

BAGHDAD: Suicide bombs at two marketplaces in Baghdad, one of them claimed by Daesh, killed at least 23 people on Sunday, police and medics said, the latest in a spate of militant attacks in the Iraqi capital that have left dozens dead.
“A soldier at the gate of Jamila market opened fire on a suicide car bomb after noticing a suspect vehicle but the terrorist blew up his car,” Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan said.
In the first blast, the attacker drove an explosives-rigged car into a large vegetable market in the district of Jamila, and detonated it after security forces opened fire to try to stop the vehicle, police sources said.
A suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest blew himself up a few hours later at a market in the Baladiyat district.
Daesh claimed carrying out the first attack in an online statement. A series of attacks in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities have killed more than 80 people in just over a week.
Several have been claimed by the Daesh, which is coming under increasing pressure from a US-backed offensive in Mosul, its last major stronghold in Iraq.
Iraqi forces have pushed Daesh out of much of the territory it once held, but this bombing and the many others that have preceded it highlight the danger the militants can pose to civilians even as they lose ground.
Iraqi forces advanced to within several hundred meters of the Tigris river than runs through Mosul on Saturday, as their operation against the militants gathers pace.
Daesh is likely to resort to bomb attacks and similar tactics elsewhere in Iraq as it is driven out of its Mosul stronghold.
Jamila is the main wholesale vegetable market in Baghdad and lies in Sadr City.
Salam Khalaf, the spokesman for a hospital in Sadr City, said that it received a headless body of a person killed in the Jamila attack who was apparently meant to be a second suicide bomber.
While a hospital employee was searching for the man’s identity card, he accidentally detonated a small explosive charge the man was carrying, blowing off a mortuary door but leaving him unharmed, Khalaf said.
The dead man was wearing an explosive belt but it did not go off, he added.
The police colonel also confirmed that the body of a person taken from the scene of the market attack later exploded at the mortuary.
Daesh issued an online statement claiming the market attack, using a nom de guerre indicating the bomber was Iraqi and saying that he targeted members of Iraq’s Shiite majority, whom the militants consider heretics.
Daesh claimed an attack on Jan. 2 — also in Sadr City — when a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle packed with explosives among a crowd of day laborers waiting for work, killing 35 people.
The militants overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in a swift 2014 offensive that swept through security forces unprepared for the assault.
The number of bombings in the capital declined following the June 2014 offensive, apparently because the militants were occupied with holding territory they seized and later defending against government attacks.
Federal forces and units from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region have since pushed Daesh back in a series of battles over a period of more than two years.
On Oct. 17, Iraqi forces launched a massive operation to recapture Mosul, the country’s last city in which Daesh still holds significant ground.
Iraqi forces punched into the city from the east, retook a series of neighborhoods and are now approaching the Tigris River, which divides the city into its eastern and western sides.
The western side, which is the smaller but more densely populated of the two, remains entirely under Daesh control.
Iraqi forces have also launched an operation to recapture Daesh-held towns near the Syrian border that along with Mosul and the northern town of Tal Afar are among the last populated areas under militant control.
Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said in late December that three months were needed to eliminate Daesh in the country.
But even if the militants no longer openly hold territory, they can still strike at Iraqi civilians and security forces with bombings and hit-and-run attacks.

Is a spate of terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations

Updated 14 min 27 sec ago

Is a spate of terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations

  • Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability

CAIRO: Three terrorist attacks in the space of as many days have raised questions over whether the Egyptian security forces have brought extremist militancy in the country under control.

The attacks between Friday and Monday came after a period of relative calm. The Egyptian military has been involved in an extensive operation against terrorist groups in their stronghold in the Sinai Peninsula for more than a year. Police forces have also been carrying out operations against cells in a large number of governorates.

The first of the three incidents was a failed attempt to plant a bomb near security forces in Cairo on Friday. On Saturday, however, a massive blast killed 14 members of the military on a security mission near El-Arish in Sinai.
The third bombing on Monday could have been just as deadly. A suicide bomber blew himself up after he was chased by police in the densely populated Al-Hussein district of Cairo near Al-Azhar Mosque. In the end three officers were killed.
The attacks came after months of relative calm in an insurgency that began after the Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammad Mursi was removed from power in 2012.
Since then, militants have targeted the Egyptian security forces, churches, coptic Christians, tourists and ordinary Egyptians, killing hundreds.
In November 2017, gunmen carried out the deadliest terror attack in Egyptian history — killing more than 300 people at a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai.

In response, the military launched a vast operation in February last year to “eliminate terrorism in Egypt.” The operation is ongoing.

Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability.

“[Terrorists] want to give Egypt a bad image to foreigners living abroad, on order to make a point. They want to abort the democratic reform process that Egypt’s been implementing in the past period,” MP Mohamed Maher Hamed told Arab News.

Author and political analyst Walid Qutb said Egypt is keen to host more important regional and international events and forums, including the African Nations football tournament, and a drop in terror-related incidents is key to this.

He said the return of terrorist operations at this time is an attempt to send a clear message that Egypt is not a safe country. What the extremists have done recently is a final dance and lost, Qutb said.
But political analyst Nabil Omar told Arab News that the elimination of terrorism requires more than just maintaining security forces.
There needs to be improved education and the spreading of correct information to improve the mentality of Egyptians, he said.
“I don’t think that the return of terrorist operations happening currently is linked to changes in politics in Egypt,” Omar said. “It has nothing to do with how well security is either. “Terrorist attacks are happening because the terrorists in question have decided to do so.”
The recent incidents in Cairo are both strange, Omar said. They targeted police forces in locations packed with civilians.
This could mean that terrorists want their attacks to be even bigger and deadlier, even if that comes at the cost of the innocent or unarmed.
“The positive thing here is that these recent terrorist attacks came after a long period of silence. During that period of time, the Egyptian military had the upper hand in relation to the terrorists – who used to be more in control before,” Omar said.
The attacks came after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi described to the Munich Security Summit this week the Egyptian experience in regards to terrorism.