16 killed in twin bomb attacks at Baghdad mall

BAGHDAD — The death toll from two bomb explosions Friday at a busy mall in Baghdad rose to 16, a police source told Xinhua Saturday.

“Our latest report said 16 people were killed and 39 others wounded in the two suicide bomb explosions of al-Nakhil Mall in eastern Baghdad,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

The two massive blasts occurred shortly before Friday midnight when a booby-trapped car detonated at the car park of al-Nakhil Mall in Palestine Street, while a suicide bomber blew up his explosive-laden car at the busy street outside the mall building, the source said.

Earlier, the source put the toll at 11 killed and 29 others wounded by the two blasts.

Iraqi security forces sealed off the area and blocked the roads leading to the scene, while ambulances and police vehicles evacuated the killed and wounded people to the city hospitals, the source said.

The deadly attack occurred as many people came to the mall for shopping before the celebration of Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha on Monday.

The four-day annual festival is also known as the Feast of the Sacrifice, which marks the end of the spiritual peak of the annual pilgrimage or Hajj in Arabic, when pilgrims descend from the hill of Arafat to the nearby holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Hours later, the Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for two bomb explosions in an online statement, saying that two of its suicide bombers detonated a car bomb and an explosive belt at a crowd of Shiite people in Palestine Street.

The authenticity of group’s brief statement could not be independently verified.

However, IS group has frequently targeted areas where crowds of people gather, including markets, cafes and mosques across Iraq.

Terrorist acts, violence and armed conflicts killed 691 Iraqis and wounded 1,016 others in August across Iraq, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq said earlier.

Many blame the current chronic instability, cycle of violence, and the emergence of extremist groups, such as the IS, on the U.S. that invaded and occupied Iraq in March 2003. PNA/Xinhua/northboundasia.com