An attack by ISIS on a crowded marketplace in Iraq killed 115 people, including women and children, in one of the deadliest single attacks in the country in the past decade.
The mostly-Shiite victims were gathered to mark the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which ended Friday for Iraqi Shiites and a day earlier for Iraqi Sunni Muslims.
Police said a small truck detonated in a crowded marketplace in the town of Khan Beni Saad Friday night in what quickly turned celebrations into a scene of horror, with body parts scattered across the market. At least 170 people were injured.
Men quickly emptied boxes of tomatoes to use them for carrying the bodies of small children, witnesses said, while adult victims lay scattered around the attack scene waiting for medical assistance.
“Khan Beni Saad has become a disaster area because of this huge explosion,” Diyala resident Sayif Ali said. “This is the first day of Eid, hundreds of people got killed, many injured, and we are still searching for more bodies.”
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on Twitter accounts associated with the militant group.
Iraq’s speaker of parliament, Salim al-Jabouri, said Saturday that the attack has struck an “ugly sectarian chord.”
“We went out to the market for shopping and preparations for the holiday Eid in order to receive holiday cheer,” said another resident, who spoke anonymously for fear of retribution. “But this joy has turned to grief and we have lost family, friends and relatives, all because of this government’s failure to provide us with security.”
Security forces were out across Diyala on Saturday, with dozens of new checkpoints and security protocols immediately implemented.
“This horrible carnage is truly outside all boundaries of civilized behavior,” Jan Kubis, the special representative of the United Nations mission in Iraq, said Saturday.”
The Sunni militant group has been behind several similar large-scale attacks on civilians or military checkpoints as it seeks to expand its territory. The group currently controls about a third of Iraq and Syria in a self-declared caliphate.