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Photo: REUTERS/Ahmed Saad

At least 51 dead after attack in Baghdad, ISIS claims responsibility

Militants attacked a shopping mall in eastern Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 17 people and injuring 40 more.

A gun battle lasted almost two hours, and officials were nervous a hostage situation was ensuing. But when the fight came to a close, officials said that most of the deaths had actually been caused by car bomb that started the attack and by two suicide bombers who struck at the mall’s entrance, The New York Times reports.

An Iraqi security official claimed that the attackers killed at least 17 people, including five security force members, and injured almost 40 people.

The Islamic State (ISIS), or the terrorist group that controls big portions of Syria and Iraq, claimed responsibility for the two-in-one attack. The group said that it targeted a gathering of “rejectionits,” otherwise known as Shi’ite Muslims.

The group also said that four militants were involved and said that they killed nearly 90 people in a social media post, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, which is keeps up with jihadist communications.

“What is coming is worse and more bitter, God permitting,” the group stated.

Iraqi forces, backed by Americans, recently pushed Islamic State militants out of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s western Anbar Province. That was the biggest group of people the group had lost, but it is still in control of two big cities–Raqqa, the group’s de facto capital in Syria and Mosul, Iraq’s second biggest city.

Monday’s attack in Baghdad illustrated that the group can still complete guerrilla attacks in a severely secured capital.

The attack also resurfaced the fear that once the Islamic State starts losing its hold on territories that it will start using guerrilla force again to instill fear in others.

Hathiam Ali, 48, was near the attack when it happened and carried the body of a child, who was killed by one of the suicide bombers, from the scene. “The scene was terrible, and I will never forget it because of the child,” he said, according to The Times.

At first, several reports led people to believe that a hostage crisis was unfolding. However, the two attackers that entered the mall were killed quickly.

“The enemy is diversifying its tactics by attacking civilians like this, especially after the recent victories by our security forces against ISIS in Ramadi,” said the head of the Baghdad Operations Command, Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir al-Shimari.

As the counterterrorism and the police forces secured the mall in Baghdad, an explosion hit a cafe in Muqdadiya, in Diyala Province. A second explosion from a suicide car bomber struck the cafe as people were being cleared from the area. The explosion resorted in the death of 23 people and 44 were injured. ISIS claimed credit for it, too.

About Meredith Rodefer

Meredith Rodefer

Meredith Rodefer is a freelance writer, who focuses on anything from lifestyle blogging to hard news, and dancer. Beyond Youth Independent, she has written for sites such as Natmonitor.com, CheekyChicago.com and FamilyFocusBlog.com.
Contact Meredith: meredith.rodefer@youthindependent.com