At least 79 killed, 131 injured in Baghdad explosions

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(BBC) At least 79 people have been killed and 131 injured in an explosion claimed by the Islamic State group in Baghdad, Iraqi police say.

A car bomb exploded near a restaurant and shopping area in the central district of Karrada late on Saturday.

The street was busy with shoppers after sundown in the holy month of Ramadan, which ends this week.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was met by angry crowds while visiting the scene of the blast on Sunday.

Iraqis, including firefighters, gather at the site of a suicide car bombing claimed by the Islamic State group on July 3, 2016 in Baghdad's central Karrada district

Among the worst-damaged buildings was the popular al-Hadi Centre (AFP/Gety image)

A second bomb also exploded at about midnight in a predominantly Shia area north of the capital, killing another five people.

The bombings, among the deadliest in Iraq this year, come a week after Iraqi security forces recaptured the city of Falluja from Islamic State (IS) militants.

Authorities say the city was used as a launching pad for attacks on Baghdad by IS.

The hardline Sunni jihadist group claimed responsibility for the car bomb in Karrada in a online statement distributed by supporters.

There are reports that the source of the blast, which struck close to midnight, was a refrigerator van packed with explosives.

People gather at the site of a suicide car bomb in the Karrada shopping area, in Baghdad, Iraq July 3, 2016.

 

Many of those killed in the attack were children, Associated Press reported. Families gathered on the street on Sunday morning for news of loved ones who were still missing.

The explosion caused a huge fire on the main street. Several buildings, including the popular al-Hadi Centre, were badly damaged and were still on fire early on Sunday.

Mr Abadi visited the scene in the morning, and was met crowds who shouted “thief” and “dog”. Video posted online appeared to show a convoy, reported to be Mr Abadi’s, being pelted with stones.

IS still controls large swathes of territory in the country’s north and west, including Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.

But the group has been under pressure in Iraq and in neighbouring Syria, where it has been targeted by government forces and US-backed rebels.

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