More than 100 people were killed in a powerful suicide car bombing in Iraq’s eastern Diyala province late on Friday evening. The attack, dubbed as one of the deadliest, took place at a crowded market in the town of Khan Beni Saad, where large number of people had gathered on the eve of Eid.
The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to messages posted on the internet micro-blogging site Twitter. The claim, however, could not be independently verified but according to the local authorities, it was posted by accounts commonly associated with the deadly terrorist group.
Initially, the Iraqi police officials claimed 80 deaths but the toll since morning has been mourning with the local authorities still trying to assess the damage. More than 50 people were also wounded in the attack too.
The government had already increased the security in areas across Iraq ever since the beginning of the holy month of Ramzan. There were apprehensions that the Sunni militant group IS would use the festive occasion to wage an assault on civilians to destabilise the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. Parts of the predominantly-mixed Diyala province were captured by the Islamic State group last year. Iraqi forces and Kurdish fighters though have retaken those areas, but clashes between the militants and security forces continue.
In August last year, at least 64 people were killed in an attack on a Sunni mosque in the volatile province. The Islamic State fighters had been trying to convince two prominent Sunni tribes in the area, the Oal-Waisi and al-Jabour, to join them, but that they have so far refused, provoking what many described as retaliatory attacks.
The Sunni militant group Islamic State (IS) has been behind several similar large-scale attacks on civilians and military checkpoints as it seeks to expand its territory, which includes a third of Iraq and Syria.
(With inputs from the agencies)