A suicide attack has killed at least four civilians and wounded six others in a Shia area of Iraq‘s eastern Baghdad, according to security sources and witnesses.
A suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt late on Thursday in a market in Sadr City, a suburb of Baghdad, the sources said.
Shortly after the blast, Iraqi police blocked all roads leading to the site and only allowed access to ambulances to transfer those injured to nearby hospitals.
Al Jazeera’s Rob Matheson, reporting from Baghdad, said the news of the attack came as a shock in the city “not least because it came just a few days into the holy month of Ramadan”.
“The Sadr City was named after a prominent Muslim scholar Mohamed Sadeq al-Sadr following the fall of Saddam Hussein and it’s become the centre for the Sadrist movement which is now developing into a political party led by the prominent Shia scholar Muqtada al-Sadr, the son of Mohamed Sadeq al-Sadr,” he said.
He also said the attack came just weeks after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, vowed to revenge for the territory lost by the armed group over the years.
ISIL claims responsibility
ISIL said it was behind the attack and claimed eight people were killed and 10 others wounded.
Its fighters have carried out several attacks across Iraq after government forces – supported by the US-led coalition and tribal paramilitary groups – regained control of large parts of the country that were seized by the group in 2014.
Iraq declared victory over the armed group in 2017, three years after it took over vast swaths of the country. Its fighters have since adapted their tactics to focus on rebel-style attacks.
The blast is the first since the security situation seemingly improved in Baghdad, leading to dozens of security barriers, cement blocks and checkpoints surrounding markets and government buildings being removed.
During the holy month of Ramadan, people often stay up late and go to restaurants for suhoor, a pre-dawn meal, before they fast from sunrise to sunset.