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Baghdad Car Bomb Kills Scores in Shiite Neighborhood
A car bomb exploded in a crowded Shiite Muslim neighborhood in Baghdad late Thursday afternoon, the latest terror attack in the capital claimed by the Islamic State, security officials reported. At least 54 people were killed and at least 63 more wounded in the bombing, making it the deadliest in Baghdad in at least a month.
The attack came as Iraqi security forces, backed by American military advisers and Special Operations forces, prepared to assault an Islamic State stronghold in Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, about 225 miles north of Baghdad.
The country has been consumed by news from Mosul, where Iraqi forces have been mounting the country's largest military operation since the United States invasion in 2003, driving Islamic State fighters from eastern Mosul over the last month
Security officials said the bomb in Baghdad went off in a parked pickup truck. Ambulances responding to the scene quickly filled to capacity, so the police and civilians helped transport other victims to hospitals, according to Abu Jafar, a police commissioner.
Mr. Jafar said the morgue at Yarmouk Hospital in Baghdad was overflowing with bodies of the dead, and the hospital's emergency room was filled to capacity with seriously injured people.
The Islamic State militant group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, posted a statement online claiming responsibility for the attack, and said that it was aimed at Shiite Muslims, whom many fundamentalist Sunnis consider to be nonbelievers. Shiites are a majority in Iraq and dominate the national government.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi convened an emergency meeting with top military and security officials Thursday night to discuss efforts to combat terrorist attacks.
A witness to the bombing, Amir Abas, 35, said he was standing about 150 yards from the pickup truck when it exploded. "I saw a lot of burned bodies, and injured people and burned cars everywhere," he said.
The bombing took place in the Baya neighborhood of southern Baghdad, where there are a number of parking lots in which people gather to buy and sell used cars, attracting large crowds on weekday afternoons.
Civilians in Shiite neighborhoods have often been the targets of attacks claimed by the Islamic State. Shiite militias, known as popular mobilization forces, are expected to take part in the military assault in western Mosul and particularly in the neighboring city of Tal Afar to the west.
On state-run television channels in Iraq, news reports from Mosul are shown with a standing logo that says in Arabic and English, "Nineveh, We Are Coming." Mosul, the last major city in Iraq where the Islamic State still maintains significant control, is the capital of Nineveh Province.
Baghdad has been hit by a series of terrorist attacks recently. At least 11 people were killed Wednesday by a bombing in another used-car lot at the edge of Sadr City, a large Shiite neighborhood. A suicide bombing in January in Sadr City killed more than 30 people.
Hakim al-Zamili, a legislator who heads the security and defense committee in Parliament, criticized intelligence and security officials for failing to anticipate the attack on Thursday. Mr. Zamili has been a frequent critic of the security establishment.
"This explosion indicates the weakness of the intelligence network in Baghdad," he said in a telephone interview on Thursday night. Islamic State terrorists are able to carry out attacks "at any time and anywhere" in the capital, he said.
[Source: By David Zucchino, The New York Times, Erbil, Irq, 16Feb17]
Islamic paramilitary organizations
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