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Iraq minister resigns as Baghdad bomb attack death toll reaches 175

Published 05/07/2016

Rescuers look for victims after a suicide bomb attack in Karada, a busy shopping district in the centre of Baghdad, Iraq (AP)
Rescuers look for victims after a suicide bomb attack in Karada, a busy shopping district in the centre of Baghdad, Iraq (AP)

Iraq's interior minister - the man largely responsible for security in Baghdad - has handed in his resignation two days after a bombing in the centre of the capital killed 175 people and injured almost 200.

Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban told reporters that the government had failed to get the various bodies charged with securing the capital to operate according to a "unified plan".

The army, federal and local police, and government-sanctioned Shiite militias share security responsibility, manning checkpoints throughout the city.

He said the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police, should have full responsibility for security inside Iraq's cities. He said he had submitted proposed reforms in 2015 but they were shelved by the government.

He added that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has not yet accepted his resignation.

The attack, claimed by the Islamic State group, was one of the worst in more than a decade of war and insurgency in Iraq. Bodies were still being recovered on Tuesday afternoon, and police and health officials said at least a dozen people remain unaccounted for.

The government has come under heavy criticism for its failure to provide security in Baghdad, and Mr al-Abadi was chased away from the bomb site hours after the attack by a crowd that hurled shoes and rocks, calling him a "thief".

The attack early on Sunday in the Karada neighbourhood came as the streets were crowded with shoppers preparing for the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to fall on Wednesday.

On Tuesday morning, Karada residents held a funeral procession for a young man at the scene of the blast. His mother, with an Iraqi flag draped over her shoulder, led the crowd of mourners as they carried his wooden coffin and pounded their chests in grief. Others were seen throwing flowers on the coffin, which was also wrapped in the Iraqi flag.

The attack prompted Mr al-Abadi to order new security measures in Baghdad and other cities.

Mr Al-Abadi also ordered the installation of x-ray systems at the entrances of Iraqi provinces, an upgraded security belt around Baghdad, increased aerial scanning and stepped-up in intelligence efforts.

IS has suffered a string of territorial losses, most recently in Fallujah, where it was driven out by Iraqi forces last month after occupying the city for more than two years.

But the extremists have continued to carry out near-daily bombings in and around Baghdad, as well as complex attacks in other countries.


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