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Baghdad death toll now at 250, making it the worst bombing since the invasion

An Isis suicide bomber detonated a lorry packed with explosives in the predominantly-Shia Karrada district of the Iraqi capital during preparations for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr

Mourners carry the Iraqi flag-draped coffin of a bomb victim during a funeral procession in the bustling commercial district of Karada, Baghdad
Mourners carry the Iraqi flag-draped coffin of a bomb victim during a funeral procession in the bustling commercial district of Karada, Baghdad
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE DEATH TOLL from Sunday’s suicide bombing in Baghdad has risen to 250, making it the deadliest such attack since the 2003 US-led invasion.

A lorry packed with explosives was detonated in the predominantly-Shia Karrada district of the Iraqi capital during preparations for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

The Islamic State group has said it carried out the suicide attack, which has plunged Iraq into an official state of mourning.

The suicide car bombing ripped through Baghdad’s Karrada district early on Sunday when it was teeming with shoppers, sparking infernos in nearby buildings.

It came a week after Iraqi security forces recaptured Fallujah from IS, leaving Mosul as the only Iraqi city under the jihadist group’s control.

Iraq’s interior minister submitted his resignation yesterday as authorities sought to contain public anger over the bombing, the worst in 13 years of war.

Mideast Iraq Candlelit vigil at the scene of the massive truck bomb attack Source: AP/Press Association Images

Jihadists

Officials, apparently seeking to shore up their image after the attack claimed by the Islamic State group, had already announced new security measures, the execution of five convicts and the arrest of 40 jihadists.

Interior minister Mohammed Ghabban announced his resignation, but may yet stay in office.

“I placed my resignation before the prime minister,” he told a news conference, describing as “absolutely useless” the checkpoints that are littered throughout capital.

He he could not “be responsible for the blood and responsible for this confusion in this security system”.

Ghabban called for a series of changes, including transferring responsibility for the capital’s security from the Baghdad Operations Command to the interior ministry, that would ultimately increase the minister’s power.

Mideast Iraq Mourners read the Koran at the scene of a massive bomb attack in Baghdad Source: AP/Press Association Images

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced changes to security measures following the blast, including scrapping fake bomb detectors that were still in use years after the man who sold them to Iraq was jailed for fraud in Britain.

Authorities also hailed the arrest of 40 jihadists who were said to be connected to planned attacks, while the justice ministry announced the execution of five convicts, linking the timing to the Baghdad blast.

Burned beyond recognition

As Iraqi politicians manoeuvered to contain the fallout from the bombing, family and friends were still waiting to learn the fate of the missing.

Health Minister Adila Hamoud told AFP that of the 250 people killed in the bombing, DNA testing would be required to identify more than half.

She said 150 bodies “required DNA testing and matching with the families of the victims” because they had been burned by the fire that followed the blast.

Hamoud did not specify how many had been identified so far, but said the process was expected to take between 15 to 45 days.

The delays have angered relatives, some of whom, including a man named Yadullah Mahmud, confronted the health minister as she visited the forensics department in Baghdad responsible for identifying the victims.

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Mideast Iraq Mourners carry the Iraqi flag-draped coffins of bomb victims,Talib Hassan, 35, and Hamza Jabbar, 37, at the holy shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Source: Anmar Khalil/PA

Stretcher piled with ashes

Mahmud, who lost six relatives in the bombing, said the family had brought what he believes are ashes of the victims to the morgue.

“We aren’t able… to identify them, but there are clues” such as mobile telephone SIM cards, rings and clothes they were wearing, he said.

A stretcher piled with ashes, some of which had spilled over the side onto the blood-streaked floor, sat near the door inside the morgue.

Mideast Iraq Mourners pray near the Iraqi flag-draped coffins of bomb victims Source: Anmar Khalil/PA

Iraqis have turned out to donate blood to help the victims of the blast, and around two dozen people were doing so at the country’s national blood bank yesterday.

Yaqub al-Mussawi, the director of the blood bank, said:

The number of donors for the last three days has reached 3,800.

Ahmad Abbas, who reclined in a blue chair as he donated blood, said he did not come because of a specific person, but rather because Iraqis were in need.

What matters is that he is Iraqi and he needs it. A drop of blood from me might help in a small way.

- © AFP, 2016

Read: Irishman Joshua Molloy became foreign fighter in Syria after seeing Isis atrocities

Read: At least 119 people killed as bomb attacks rock Baghdad

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