|Explosions rocked a busy market in Iraq’s capital, resulting in a large number of casualties, police said [Reuters]|
At least eight people were killed when three bomb blasts rocked a busy market in Iraq’s capital where people were shopping for the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha.
The Iraqi police said the blasts occurred in Shurja, an important commercial district in central Baghdad where shop owners and vendors sell clothes, electronics, textiles, food and other goods.
“I can see fire and black smoke rising and a large number of fire engines, ambulances and police patrols rushing to the market,” a Reuters news agency witness close to Shurja market said.
“The reason behind the fire was sabotage. The perpetrators used gasoline to set ablaze the market,” Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, a spokesman for Baghdad security operations, said.
Iraqi forces are preparing to take full responsibility for security by year-end when all US troops pull out of the country, nearly nine years after the US-led invasion.
Military leaders have expressed concerns that armed groups might ramp up attacks as the 33,000 US troops left in Iraq pack up to leave.
Although violence has dropped since the peak of sectarian fighting in 2006-7, bombings and killings occur on a daily basis and Sunni armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and Shia armed groups remain capable of carrying out lethal attacks.
The number of civilians killed in violence in Iraq climbed sharply in October following a string of suicide and roadside bombings in Baghdad.
Attacks have also increased against Iraq’s army and police. The number of people killed in October was the highest this year.
US President Barack Obama said on October 21 that all of his country’s forces would leave Iraq by the year-end in accordance with a 2008 security pact.