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BAGHDAD, Jan 23, (Agencies): The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a rare suicide attack that rocked central Baghdad, killing 32 people and wounding dozens. The bombing targeted “apostate Shiites,” the group said in a statement on an IS-affiliated website late Thursday. At least 32 people were killed and over 100 people wounded in the blasts on Thursday. Some were in severe condition.

According to officials, the first suicide bomber cried out loudly that he was ill in the middle of the bustling market, prompting a crowd to gather around him – and that’s when he detonated his explosive belt. The second detonated shortly after. The U.S.-led coalition recently ceased combat activities and is gradually drawing down its troop presence in Iraq, sparking fears of an IS resurgence.

The group has rarely been able to penetrate the capital since being dislodged by Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led coalition in 2017. The attack was the first in nearly three years to hit the capital. Elsewhere, in northern Iraq and the western desert, attacks continue and almost exclusively target Iraqi security forces. An increase in attacks was seen last summer as militants took advantage of the government’s focus on tackling the coronavirus pandemic and exploited security gaps across disputed territory in northern Iraq.

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, Thursday, Jan 21. Iraq’s military said twin suicide bombings at the Bab al-Sharqi commercial area in central Baghdad Thursday ripped through the busy market killing over two dozen and wounding over 70, with some in serious condition. (AP)

Meanwhile, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al- Jaber Al-Sabah sent two condolence cables to Iraq’s President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadmi expressing his sincere condolences on the victims of the two deadly blasts in central Baghdad. The cable highlighted Kuwait’s “denunciation and strong condemnation of these two acts that targeted the lives of innocent people and undermined security and stability in the brotherly country.” Kuwait’s Amir went on to underline Kuwait’s stance in rejection of terrorism, under all forms and manifestations, and in support of all measures taken by Iraq to confront such “criminal acts.” He also extended his sincere condolences to the families of the victims of the blast and wished a speedy recovery for those injured.

His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah both sent similar cables. Foreign Minister Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammad Al- Sabah reiterated Kuwait’s strong condemnation of the terrorist blasts that shook central Baghdad on Thursday and resulted in the death of dozens of innocent people and targetted the security and stability of Iraq. This came in a telephone call held on Saturday between the Kuwaiti foreign minister and his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein.

Kuwait’s foreign minister also underlined his country’s solidarity with Iraq in all measures Baghdad takes to maintain its security and stability. He also expressed his sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

Kuwait National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim sent a cable of condolences to Iraq’s parliament speaker Mohammad Al-Halbousi on the dozens of victims of two bombings in central Baghdad. In his cable, Al-Ghanim denounced the terrorist acts and all acts that target innocent lives and affect the security and stability of countries. He also underlined the need for “concerted efforts and decisive measures” to be taken to eliminate such “criminal acts.”

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