Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday called for “eliminating jihadist dormant cells” after a double suicide bombing that killed at least 31 people in central Baghdad, the second in the Iraqi capital in three days.
The attacks came a day after Abadi announced his May 12 legislative bid for a list called the Victory Alliance, just over a month after announcing “the end of the war “against the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group.
Early Monday, when day laborers, especially those in the construction industry, post to be hired by employers who pick them up on their pick-up truck, Tayaran Square, a crossroads from Baghdad’s center, was shaken by two explosions.
“Two suicide bombers” blew themselves up, said General Saad Maan, spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, which brings together the army and the police.
This double attack resulted in “31 dead and 94 wounded,” a police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Place Tayaran, where ambulances and security forces had arrived in large numbers after the double bombing, was targeted many times by attacks, often deadly.
According to the expert jihadist movements Hicham al-Hashemi, several attacks have killed some 180 people since 2011, often “in the run-up to elections or just after a poll.” They aim to “create chaos and exacerbate denominational divisions,” he says to AFP.
A few hours after the double bombing, a person was killed by a grenade explosion in eastern Baghdad, the police said, adding that it was due to a tribal dispute and not to an attack. .
After a period of relative calm, the Iraqi capital has faced a resurgence of attacks with the launch in late 2016 of the offensive to reconquer Mosul, the second largest city of the country and stronghold of jihadists. The city was taken over at IS in July 2017.
IS has committed numerous bloody attacks in Baghdad and the rest of the country.
On Saturday night, a suicide bombing near a security checkpoint near a busy square in northern Baghdad killed five people.
These latest attacks have so far not been claimed.
Shortly after Monday, Abadi held an emergency meeting with the Joint Operations Command and intelligence officials.
He asked them to act “to eliminate the dormant cells of the IS and ensure the safety of citizens,” said a statement from his office.
In December, Iraq announced the “end of the war” against IS, driven out of the Baghdad region, but also from all the urban and populated areas it controlled in Iraq. However, jihadist cells are still active north of the Iraqi capital.
The question of security in a country plagued by the US-led 2003 invasion of deadly violence will weigh in the choice of voters to choose their MPs in May.
Abadi will face his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki, a member of the same Daawa party. The two men decided to form two competing lists.
In this race, 65-year-old Abadi left with a major asset: he managed to rally 18 lists representing Hashd al-Shaabi, these paramilitary units having supported the government forces in the war against ISIS. The Hashd is dominated by Shia militias backed by Iran, a regional heavyweight.
The ballot will be held proportionally in the 18 provinces of the country to elect 328 deputies.