Thousands in Baghdad mourn deadliest blast since US-led invasion
Thousands of Iraqis gathered on Wednesday at the site of a Baghdad bombing that killed at least 250 people to mourn the dead and express solidarity with those stricken by the blast.
A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle in Baghdad's Karrada district early on Sunday as it teemed with shoppers ahead of the end of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, sparking infernos in nearby buildings.
The attack, claimed by the Islamic State (IS) militant group, was the deadliest in the country since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iraq officials said.
On Wednesday, the street running between the charred remains of buildings burned in the attack was packed with people, some carrying Iraqi flags, others holding candles. Many wept and beat their chests in mourning for the dead.
"We came from all the areas of Baghdad to stand in solidarity with the people of Karrada and the martyrs of Karrada," said Haider Mohammed Hassan, one of those gathered at the bomb site.
"The Christian community in Iraq, especially in Baghdad, gathered to visit this sorrowful site," Adel Kanna said.
"I ask God to give patience and fortitude to the families of the martyrs," he said.
The blast sparked widespread anger among Iraqis, some of whom have accused the government of not doing enough to protect them.
And it has overshadowed what would normally be a joyful holiday for Muslims, turning it into a time of mourning and grief.
IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces have since regained significant territory from the militants.
In response to the battlefield setbacks, the group has hit back against civilians, and experts have warned there may be more bombings as the militants continue to lose ground.