Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET
In the deadliest single attack in a decade in Iraq, a truck bomb exploded at a crowded marketplace in eastern Diyala province, killing at least 115 people celebrating the end of the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan. The self-declared Islamic State reportedly has claimed responsibility.
The Associated Press writes: “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 in the attack, police officials said, speaking anonymously because they are not authorized to brief the media.”
Susannah George, reporting for NPR from Iraq, says amateur video shows dazed civilians wandering through destroyed streets and buildings.
The explosion also brought down several nearby buildings, Reuters says.
“Some people were using vegetable boxes to collect children’s body parts,” police Major Amed al-Tamimi was quoted by Reuters as saying from the site of the explosion. He described the damage to the market as “devastating.”
Diyala resident Sayif Ali was quoted by the AP as saying as saying that people are still searching for bodies.
Deutsche Welle adds that after the attack:
“Crowds rampaged through the streets after the attack, smashing car windows in an outpouring of grief and anger. Diyala’s provincial government declared three days’ mourning and ordered parks and entertainment places to close for the rest of the Eid al-Fitr holiday. …
The [Sunni extremist Islamic State] … has repeatedly targeted Shiites, who it considers to be ‘apostates’ or ‘rejectionists.’ IS has been behind several similar large-scale attacks on civilians or military checkpoints as part of its strategy to sow discord and expand its territory.”
Reuters reports that ISIS said in a statement on Twitter that the attack was to avenge the killing of Sunni Muslims in the northern Iraqi town of Hawija. It said the truck was loaded with three tons of explosives.
National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement: “The United States strongly condemns yesterday’s abhorrent ISIL attack in Diyala Province which purposefully and viciously targeted Iraqi civilians celebrating the Eid ul-Fitr holiday to mark the conclusion of the holy month of Ramadan. This latest attack is yet another painful example of the atrocities that the terrorist group ISIL continues to perpetrate against the people of Iraq.”