BAGHDAD: Two suicide bombers detonated explosive vests in a crowded market in central Baghdad on Thursday morning, killing at least 32 people in the biggest such attack in several years, according to the government.
The health and interior ministries, which reported the death toll, said that at least 100 were wounded.
“The first suicide bomber blew himself up after pretending to be sick to gather people around him,” said Maj. Gen. Khalid al Muhanna, a spokesman for the interior ministry. He said the bomber had fallen to the ground and then detonated the vest after people rushed to help him. The second bomber detonated his explosive nearby minutes later.
General Muhanna said the authorities suspected that the attackers were connected to the Islamic State terrorist group or an offshoot of it, although no group immediately claimed responsibility
After Thursday’s explosions, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi convened an emergency meeting of his cabinet and security officials.
Four years after the last Iraqi city was liberated from ISIS, Iraqi security forces are still battling pockets of fighters, mostly in the desert near the Syrian border and in mountain hide-outs in north-central Iraq.
The ISIS sleeper cells target mostly security forces. They are a tiny remnant of the group that in 2014 took over one-third of Iraq.
Although Iraqi officials pointed to ISIS as the most likely culprit behind the bombings, bystanders at the site worried that political tensions were rising ahead of elections set for October. The vote was postponed from June after the election authorities said they would not be ready in time.
The outdoor market, near Tayaran Square, was crowded with shoppers buying new and used clothing when the attacks took place.