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Iraq arrests suspects of Baghdad suicide bombing claimed by IS

The suicide attack took place in a crowded market in the suburb of Sadr City on the eve of Eid ul-Adha
Iraqis inspect the site of the explosion a day earlier in a popular market in the Shia-majority Sadr City neighbourhood east of Baghdad on 20 July 2021 (AFP)

Iraqi security forces have arrested members of a "terrorist cell" suspected of perpetrating a suicide bombing that killed 30 people in Baghdad five days ago. 

Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi made the announcement via Twitter and said on Saturday that the suspects would stand trial for the attack. 

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"We have arrested all the members of the cowardly terrorist cell that planned and perpetrated the attack on al-Woheilat market," Kadhimi said. 

Kadhimi added that the suspects would stand trial in Sadr City, a predominantly Shia suburb, where the attack took place. 

The attack on the evening of 19 July ripped through the crowded market on the eve of the Eid al-Adha holidays, when Muslims would be buying gifts and food as part of the festivities. 

The bombing sparked anger and frustration at the reach of the Islamic State group, which claimed the attack via its Telegram channel.

President Barham Salih condemned the "heinous crime of unprecedented cruelty on the eve of Eid," writing on Twitter that the perpetrators "do not allow people to rejoice, even for a moment".

The foreign ministries of Iraq's neighbours, Iran and Turkey, respectively, condemned the bombing as a "barbaric act" and "heinous terror attack".

Large bomb attacks, once an almost daily occurrence in the Iraqi capital, have largely halted in recent years since IS fighters were mostly defeated in 2017. However, explosions continue to take place sporadically.  

In January, a suicide attack claimed by IS killed at least 32 people in a crowded market, marking the deadliest bombing in three years.

Monday's suicide bombing also came days before Kadhimi's planned meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington to discuss the proposed withdrawal of American troops and Iraq's parliamentary elections in October.