Sixty-four people were killed Wednesday when a car bomb went off in a crowded Baghdad market. The attack took place in a largely Shiite area of Sadr City, a northeastern suburb of the Iraqi capital. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on social media, saying its target was Shiite militias. Among the victims, however, were many women and children, Iraqi police said. Update: The Associated Press reports the death toll in today's attack is now 93.
This has been one of the most deadly attacks in Iraq so far this year. In February another ISIS attack in Sadr City — this one a twin suicide bombing — killed 70, also in a marketplace. In March ISIS claimed responsibility for two attacks: a fuel tanker was blown up at a checkpoint south of the capital killing at least 47, and a suicide bomber killed at least 32 at a football match in the Iraqi town of Iskandariya. Many of the dead in the latter attack were boys participating in a trophy ceremony.
Some 87 others were wounded Wednesday — several of them seriously, with police worried that the death toll could rise further. The Associated Press reported on the devastation from the blasts. As ambulances rushed to the scene, bystanders attempted to help the victims. Blood covered the pavement and smoke billowed from street-level storefronts that were struck too.
Photos from the scene showed hundreds gathered around. The remains of the vehicle carrying the bomb were charred. Just the metal chassis was left. Windows were blown out of other cars parked nearby, at least two of which were completely destroyed. Plastic and goods from the market were strewn about.
An eyewitness told the Associated Press that it was a pickup loaded with fruits and vegetables. Karim Salih, a 45-year old grocer, told the news service that the driver parked and then quickly disappeared into the crowd: "It was such a thunderous explosion that jolted the ground. ... The force of the explosion threw me for meters and I lost consciousness for a few minutes."
Reuters reported that the truck parked outside a beauty salon. Among the dead were several brides who were getting ready for their weddings. Grooms who were in a nearby barbershop were also killed. Wigs, shoes, and children's toys were on the ground outside.
Sadr City is the stronghold of a well-known Shiite cleric and has been a repeated ISIS target; the Sunni terrorist group considers Shiites to be heretics. ISIS controls a big section of northern and western Iraq in addition to parts of Syria. The Iraqi Army helped by Shiite militias and U.S. airstrikes have won back some ground from the group, but haven't been able to prevent bombings in the capital. The repeated attacks led Baghdad to begin building a wall in February in an attempt to keep ISIS out.