Iraq News

Iraq to compensate families of al-Karrada attack

By Khalid al-Taie

Volunteers repair the damage caused by a July 3rd suicide attack that targeted a busy market in Baghdad's al-Karrada district. [Photo courtesy of Baghdad Facebook page]

Volunteers repair the damage caused by a July 3rd suicide attack that targeted a busy market in Baghdad's al-Karrada district. [Photo courtesy of Baghdad Facebook page]

An Iraqi government committee has been assigned the task of compensating the families of those killed or wounded in the July 3rd suicide bombing in Baghdad's al-Karrada district claimed by the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL).

The Iraqi Ministry of Health said 292 died in the blast, while around 200 others were wounded.

"A martyr's family will be paid five million dinars ($3,800) and allocated a monthly retirement salary as well as a residential lot or an apartment," Baghdad deputy governor Jassim Bakhaty told Diyaruna.

The wounded will be paid amounts commensurate with the nature of the injuries they sustained and will be included in the retirement, health and social care systems, he added.

Another committee will assess property damage caused by the blast, and will submit a report to the Council of Ministers to disburse compensations, he said.

Re-examining security measures

"Since the crime occurred, the area has been under heavy protection as the government has decided to re-examine all security plans and measures," Bakhaty said.

"Checkpoints were set up at al-Karrada’s entrances and its side streets are equipped with advanced explosives detection equipment," he said.

Fifty police dogs were deployed at those checkpoints, he added, and security patrols are being conducted in the district's streets and alleys.

In the wake of the attack -- the largest in the capital in more than a decade -- the local government launched a campaign to urge residents to co-operate with the security agencies assigned to protect them, Bakhaty said.

The campaign, which is targeting residents on the outskirts of the city, intends to block any attempts by groups such as ISIL "to establish hotbeds or nests or threaten the security and safety of the capital and its inhabitants", he said.

Al-Karrada local council members, family members of some of the victims, and local dignitaries have met with security leaders to submit several proposals on maintaining security, said Bahaa al-Rubaie, deputy head of the local council.

These include the deployment of new explosive detection technologies and K-9 units, boosting intelligence gathering efforts and regulating entry and exit to and from the area without adversely impacting residents or commercial activity.

"The government and security authorities have responded to these proposals," he said, calling for additional surveillance cameras to be installed in commercial areas and for an operations centre to be established to monitor them.

Rehabilitating apartments and shops

The government is inclined "to forgive the debts and loans owed by the victims, namely the shop owners, to the banks, which are estimated at billions of dinars and were borrowed to stimulate and develop their businesses", al-Rubaie said.

He stressed the need to expedite the rehabilitation of the damaged buildings, compensate the victims and rebuild their shops and apartments.

Al-Karrada local council is in the process of registering the victims of the attack in order to ensure the martyrs and their families receive the compensation to which they are entitled, al-Rubaie said.

"We have so far recorded information on 90 victims who were identified by their families," he said. "We asked the families of those who are missing in the bombing to provide DNA samples to compare and match with results of DNA tests to be performed on the victims by the Ministry of Health."

Meanwhile, Amanat Baghdad has begun to repair the infrastructure destroyed by the bombing, including water lines, sewage pipes and sidewalks, director of public relations and media Hakim Abdul Zahra told Diyaruna.

The mayoralty supervised a clean-up campaign at the site and conducted safety checks to ensure it is free of harmful radiation or substances, he said.

He stressed the need for building and shop owners to adhere to safety requirements, such as ensuring the availability of staircases and exits as well as fire valves and extinguishers.

Measures to prevent future attacks

Black banners and other manifestations of grief can still be seen at the scene of the blast on al-Karrada al-Sharqiya Street, where residents and families continue to gather to mourn the dead.

The July 3rd bombing was "a great calamity, and all possible measures must be taken to prevent a repeat of such horrific attacks", local dignitary Sheikh Issa Omran al-Khafaji told Diyaruna.

"The ISIL criminals have taken the lives of innocents, and there are still 181 charred bodies in the custody of the forensics department awaiting identification," he said.

"The tragedy has left a great sadness and a gaping wound, and security and government agencies must punish the terrorists," he added.

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