Bombings Kill at Least 22 in Baghdad

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Iraqi's clean the street after a suicide bomber detonated explosives inside a restaurant in Baghdad al-Jadida, east of the capital, on February 7, 2015. AFP/Sabah Arar

Published Saturday, February 7, 2015

At least 22 people were killed in two bombings in eastern Baghdad on Saturday, security officials said, hours before the government was to lift a long-standing nighttime curfew on the capital.

At least 50 people were wounded, the officials said.

In the first attack, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt inside a restaurant in the neighborhood of Baghdad al-Jadida, leaving 12 dead.

In the second attack, two bombs ripped through the bustling Sharqa market district, killing 10 people. Earlier police had put the number of dead at 23.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but suicide bombings are a tactic almost exclusively employed by Islamist militants in Iraq, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) jihadist group.

The interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan said he did not believe the blasts were linked to the decision to lift the curfew.

The Iraqi government announced on Thursday that the decade-old curfew in the capital would end on Saturday at midnight and that four neighborhoods would be "demilitarized."

The moves are part of a campaign to normalize life in Iraq's war-blighted capital and to persuade residents that Baghdad no longer faces a threat from ISIS, the militant group which seized large areas of northern and western Iraq last year. Iraqi forces are now battling to push the jihadists back.

Some form of curfew has been in place since the beginning of the US-led occupation in 2003, hindering commercial and civilian movement. The midnight to 5:00 am curfew has been in place for more than seven years.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the move earlier in the week, a decision his spokesman said was taken so there would "be normal life as much as possible, despite the existence of a state of war."

(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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