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Suicide blasts in Baghdad condemned

China Daily | Updated: 2021-01-23 09:45

Mourners carry a flag-draped coffin of a suicide bomb victim, Ahmed Reda, during his funeral procession at the Imam Ali Shrine in Najaf, Iraq, on Thursday. ANMAR KHALIL/ASSOCIATED PRESS

UN leads response as nations express solidarity with Iraq after twin attacks

The United Nations and many countries have strongly condemned Thursday's deadly twin suicide bombings targeting civilians at a market in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed 32 people and wounded 110. It was the deadliest assault on the city in three years.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his deep condolences to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Iraq, and wished a speedy recovery to those injured, his spokesman said in a statement.

The secretary-general appealed to the people of Iraq to reject any attempts to spread fear and violence aimed at undermining peace, stability and unity. He called on the Iraqi government to ensure that those behind these horrific crimes are swiftly identified and brought to justice, the statement said.

Guterres also reiterated the commitment of the UN to supporting the people and government of Iraq in their efforts to consolidate peace.

The first attacker drew a crowd at the bustling market in the capital's Tayaran Square by claiming to feel sick, then detonated his explosives belt, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said. As more people then flocked to the scene to help the victims, a second suicide bomber set off his explosives.

The open-air market, where secondhand clothes are sold at stalls, had been teeming with people after the lifting of nearly a year of COVID-19 restrictions across the country.

On Friday, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswomen Hua Chunying said China strongly condemns the attack and expresses condolences and sympathies to families of the victims and the injured.

"We oppose any kinds of terrorism and will support the Iraqi government's efforts to maintain national security and stability," she said at a news conference.

The European Union called the attack "senseless and barbaric" and reiterated its "full support to the Iraqi authorities in the fight against extremism and terrorism".

US acting secretary of state Daniel Smith said the bombings "were vicious acts of mass murder and a sobering reminder of the terrorism that continues to threaten the lives of innocent Iraqis".

In a statement, the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the bombings, reiterating Tunisia's solidarity with "the brother state of Iraq in its war against all forms of terrorism and violent extremism".

'No retreat in the fight'

Iran also denounced the attack, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh saying his government was ready to assist Iraq in the struggle against terrorism and extremism.

After the attack, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi chaired an emergency meeting with security and intelligence commanders at Baghdad Operations Command to discuss the security breach. He also launched an investigation and ordered officials to hunt down the terrorist cells that facilitated the actions of the suicide bombers.

He said that the attack on civilians "confirms the continuation of our war against terrorism and that there is no retreat in the fight to eliminate its remnants in every inch of Iraq", the statement said.

Iraqi President Barham Salih said in a tweet on Twitter that the timing of the "terrorist attack confirms the terrorist groups' efforts to target the country's major political steps", referring to the country's early elections slated for Oct 10.

Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein said in a news release that "the continuing regional tension affects the internal security situation in Iraq".

Thursday's attack took place in the same market that was struck in the last big attack, in January 2018, when at least 27 people were killed.

Suicide attacks, once an almost daily occurrence in the Iraqi capital, have halted in recent years since the IS group was defeated in 2017, part of an overall improvement in security that has brought normal life back to Baghdad.

However, sporadic deadly incidents still occur in the war-ravaged country as IS remnants have since melted into urban areas or deserts and rugged areas, carrying out frequent guerrilla attacks against security forces and civilians.

Xinhua and agencies contributed to this story.

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