The death toll of a deadly nighttime bombing outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad has risen to 31 as ISIS militants claimed responsibility.
Iraqi officials said families with children were enjoying a late-night snack after breaking their fast for Ramadan when the explosions went off.
A closed-circuit camera video of the explosion shows a busy downtown avenue, with cars driving down the street when a massive blast strikes.
Then, a huge fireball engulfs a building, forcing the cars to scramble to get away. Videos of the attack posted on social media show wounded and bloodied people crying for help on the sidewalk outside the ice cream parlor.
The attacks come as ISIS militants are steadily losing more territory to U.S.-backed Iraqi forces in the battle for Mosul, the country’s second-largest city. The Sunni extremists are increasingly turning to insurgency-style terror attacks to detract from their losses.
Al Jazeera reported that a number of those hurt were on the ground and propped themselves on colorful benches outside the shop. It is unclear how many of the dead were children, but the report pointed out that one girl, wearing a ribbon and bow in her hair, wandered around in an apparent daze after the blast.
In the second attack, an explosives-laden car went off during rush hour near the state-run Public Pension Office in Baghdad’s busy Shawaka area, killing 14, a police officer said. At least 37 people were wounded in that attack, he added.
Police and security officials say the explosion in the Iraqi capital’s bustling Karrada neighborhood early on Tuesday also wounded 27 people. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, saying a suicide bomber carried out the attack. Officials told Al Jazeera that the explosives were placed in a parked car.
“[ISIS] wants Iraqis to fear going out and this is to show they are still present and able to strike the heart of the Iraqi capital, even as they are being defeated on the battlefield,” Hayder al-Khoei, a London-based Middle East expert, told Al Jazeera.
Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the coalition against ISIS tweeted, “Isis [IS] terrorists tonight in Baghdad target children & families enjoying time together at an ice cream shop. We stand w/Iraq against this evil.”
The attacks came just days into the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast during daylight hours. After sundown, families break their fast and Baghdad’s restaurants and cafes quickly fill up with people staying up long into the night.
During Ramadan last year, another section of Karrada was hit by massive suicide bombing that killed almost 300 people, the deadliest single attack in the Iraqi capital in 13 years of war. The attack was also claimed by ISIS.