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Death Toll in Iraqi Car Bombing Rises to 130

  • VOA News

Civilians gather at the scene of a suicide car bombing at a busy market in Khan Bani Saad in the Diyala province, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq, July 18, 2015.

Civilians gather at the scene of a suicide car bombing at a busy market in Khan Bani Saad in the Diyala province, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq, July 18, 2015.

The death toll from a massive car bombing near Baghdad continued to climb Saturday, with as many as 130 people dead in an attack claimed by Islamic State extremists.

Authorities are calling the attack, which wounded at least 170 others, the worst such bombing targeting Iraqi civilians in the past decade.

The White House, in a statement Saturday, decried the attack in Diyala province, saying it "purposefully and viciously targeted Iraqi civilians celebrating the Eid-al-Fitr holiday" that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

It called the Friday evening bombing in the marketplace of the mainly Shi'ite town of Khan Beni Saad "yet another painful example of the atrocities that the terrorist group ISIL continues to perpetrate against the people of Iraq."

The speaker of Iraq's parliament, Salim al-Jabouri, said the attack had struck an "ugly sectarian chord," and added that the government was making "attempts to regulate Daesh's terror from destabilizing Diyala security," referring to the militant group by its Arabic acronym.

Security forces were out in full force across Diyala on Saturday, with dozens of new checkpoints and security protocols immediately implemented.

The blast leveled buildings, crushing many victims and leaving the streets strewn with debris and body parts. Officials were still working late Saturday to find victims buried in the rubble.

The U.N. mission in Iraq issued a statement describing the attack as "horrible carnage [that] is truly outside all boundaries of civilized behavior."

Islamic State militants took to the Internet on Saturday to boast of the attack, saying it was aimed at killing Shi'ite Muslims. The group claimed on Twitter that the bomber was carrying about three tons of explosives in his vehicle.

The Diyala provincial government declared three days of mourning and canceled holiday festivities in response to the bombing.

Khan Bani Saad is about 20 kilometers east of Baghdad.

Islamic State militants overran parts of Diyala province last year. Iraqi forces and Kurdish fighters have since retaken those areas, but clashes between the militants and security forces continue.

Civilians inspect a crater caused by a suicide car bombing at a busy market in Khan Bani Saad in the Diyala province, about 30 kilomters (20 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq, July 18, 2015.

Civilians inspect a crater caused by a suicide car bombing at a busy market in Khan Bani Saad in the Diyala province, about 30 kilomters (20 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq, July 18, 2015.

Elsewhere in Iraq, a roadside bomb on a commercial street in Baghdad's Dora district Saturday killed four people and wounded seven.

North of Baghdad, a roadside bomb on a commercial street in al-Rashidiya killed three people and wounded 11.

Meanwhile, reports emerged Saturday that the Islamic State group used projectile-delivered poison gas against Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria on several occasions last month.

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