|Residents carry the coffin of a victim of Friday’s bombing in Baghdad’s Zaafaraniya neighbourhood [Reuters]
At least 32 people have been killed, half of them police officers, after a suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives at a funeral procession in southeastern Baghdad.
Police officials said the blast occurred on Friday morning in the mostly Shia neighborhood of Zafaraniyah, where mourners had gathered for the funeral of Mohammed al-Maliki, a real-estate agent who was killed along with his wife and son a day earlier.
They said 65 people were wounded in the explosion, including 16 officers, which struck as the procession was transporting Maliki’s body for the funeral services.
Hospital officials confirmed the death toll, and said that at least four of those killed were women.
Salam Hussein, a 42-year-old grocery store owner in Zafaraniyah said he was watching the funeral procession, which was heavily guarded by police, when the blast blew out his store windows and injured one of his workers.
“It was a huge explosion,” Hussein said.
As he took his worker to the hospital, Hussein said he saw cars engulfed in flames, “human flesh scattered around and several mutilated bodies in a pool of blood” around where the attacker’s car had exploded.
Minutes after the blast, gunmen opened fire at a checkpoint in Zafaraniyah, killing two policemen, according to police officials.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.
There have been differing accounts of the attack by assailants that led to the death of Maliki and his family in Yarmuk.
Speaking about Thursday’s attack, a Yarmuk hospital medic said the attackers burst into a real-estate agency and killed three people.
An interior ministry official said four people, including two real-estate agents, died when assailants opened fire on their car.
The attack in Yarmuk comes a day after 17 people were killed in predominantly Sunni areas throughout the nation.
|Friday’s attack brings the death toll from a wave of attacks since the beginning of the year to over 200 [AFP]|
Ten were killed in a bomb attack that destroyed the house of two policemen brothers and their families in the central area of Hamia on Thursday. Both policemen, two infants and four women were among the dead, according to Iraqi authorities.
Three others died and 17 were wounded after two bombs exploded outside a popular cafe in the predominantly Sunni district of Sadiyah in southwestern Baghdad, the capital.
A police officer was also shot dead in the same neighbourhood.
In Yarmouk, a mostly Sunni district in western Baghdad, assailants shot dead a real-estate agent and two of his clients, police said. Iraqi authorities could not identify the motive for the attack.
Also on Thursday, a motorcycle bomb missed a passing police patrol in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing two civilians and wounding five others, Sarhad Qadir, a police commander, said.
Although there were no claims of responsibility for Thursday’s attacks, the bombings in Baghdad’s Sunni districts suggest suspected Shia armed groups could be retaliating against Sunni fighters, including al-Qaeda, in the country.
Friday’s attack brings the death toll from a wave of attacks since the beginning of the year to more than 200. The attacks raise concerns that the surge in violence and an escalating political crisis might deteriorate into a civil war.
The Shia-led government often blames Sunni fighters for attacks targetting Shias, saying they are trying to stoke the kind of sectarian slaughter which killed tens of thousands of Iraqis at the peak of the war in 2006-2007.