Iraqi PM Sacks Baghdad Security Chief After Deadly Bombing

July 8, 2016

Iraq’s prime minister fired Baghdad’s chief security officer Friday after the deadly weekend bombing that killed close to 300, provoking criticism over the government’s ability to prevent such attacks.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the dismissal of the Baghdad operations commander on Facebook as well as the removal of other security and intelligence officials, Reuters reports.

“The sacking of the Baghdad Operations Commander was due to accumulated mistakes that cannot be overlooked,” said one senior security official quoted by the news service.

The early Sunday morning attack on a busy street in Baghdad’s Karada neighborhood is being considered the deadliest since the U.S.-led invasion, killing at least 292 people according to Iraq’s Health Ministry. Many of the bodies have yet to be identified, NPR’s Leila Fadel tells our Newscast unit.

“The health minister, Adeela Hamoud, visited the morgue Thursday and asked families to come forward for DNA testing to help identify 177 unidentified bodies,” Leila reports

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, but outrage quickly turned to the government.

A Sunday visit by Abadi to the site was met by angered residents who pelted the prime minister with various objects.

Iraqis have turned their attention to failings in security equipment and procedures, including bomb detectors, says Leila:

“People focused their rage on the continued use of fake bomb detectors, proven to be useless. The British man who sold them was arrested for fraud in the U.K. But the hand-held devices were still widely used by Baghdad’s security forces. Since the blast, Abadi ordered that they stop being used.”

The dismissals come a day after another attack, this time at a Shiite shrine just north of Baghdad. NPR’s Alice Fordham tells our newscast unit ISIS — which frequently targets Shiite Muslims — has already claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed at least 30 people:

“The assault on the shrine in Balad, north of the capital, began with a mortar attack followed by three suicide attackers in military uniforms. According to an official statement, those attackers reached the outside gate of the shrine, where security forces fired at them, causing two of the attackers to detonate their explosives in a market next to the shrine.”

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