Dozens of Iraqis were killed and wounded on Friday (June 9th) in two suicide attacks, the deadliest of which targeting a busy outdoor market in the town of Musayyib, south of Baghdad, officials told Diyaruna.
The "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) claimed the attacks through its propaganda agency Amaq.
A suicide bomber wearing an explosives vest blew himself up at 10:30 a.m. -- peak hour in Iraq -- at a market in Musayyib, killing at least 21 people, Babil police chief Maj. Gen. Ali Hassan Mahdi told Diyaruna.
"A young suicide bomber wearing a blue track suit blew himself up among shoppers at the vegetables market in Musayyib, Babil province," Mahdi said.
"The police command had intelligence information about potential terrorist attacks, and had stepped up security measures," he said.
"However, it was difficult to prevent the attack because the targeted area is open to several neighbourhoods and overlapping streets," he added.
Many children, women among victims
Chairman of Babil provincial council's security committee, Falah Abdul Kareem Radhi, told Diyaruna that 21 people were killed and 35 others were wounded in an initial toll of the attack on the market.
"Most of the victims are children, women and merchants," he said, noting that "the market is usually busier on Fridays, and has become even busier with the start of Ramadan".
"The attack reveals anew the ugly nature of ISIS, and the group's lack of respect of the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan," he said.
Radhi urged the government to increase the number of security personnel in Babil province, saying that the Babil police department "needs at least 2,000 policemen".
A few days ago, provincial officials met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to discuss beefing up the number of security personnel, he said, adding, "We are expecting urgent measures from him in this regard."
The attack in Musayyib came hours after another, apparently failed attack in the city of Karbala, a few kilometres to the south-west.
Four civilians were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up at 6 a.m. Friday at the entrance of the city's main bus station, police sources said.
"The security forces intercepted the suicide bomber, but he blew himself up at the entrance of the bus station," a statement issued by Karbala police and the Central Euphrates Command said.
"Four civilians were wounded in an initial toll of the blast," the statement said.