Up to 97 people were killed and 133 wounded in a huge truck bomb explosion at a busy marketplace in Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala on Friday, a provincial security source told Xinhua.
The bloody attack occurred when a truck loaded with 4-5 tons of explosives detonated as hundreds of people were crowded at a popular market at the town of Khan Bani Saad, just south of the provincial capital city of Baquba, which located some 65 northeast of Baghdad, the source said on condition of anonymity.
The huge blast killed 97 people and wounded 133 others and left 23 others missed, while some 35 shops were flattened and 40 others badly damaged, the source said.
The explosion also left some 45 civilian vehicles charred and dozens others damaged, the source said, adding that many of the victims’ bodies were charred or cut into small pieces as a result of the blast.
The provincial authorities launched an investigation about the incident to identify who was behind the blast and how the truck entered the guarded marketplace.
The investigation also looked into some reports saying that the huge blast was carried out by a suicide bomber, which is the style of the Islamic State (IS) militant group which seizes large parts of Iraq.
The authorities declared three-day mourning and ordered all parks and entertainment places to close for the rest of the the Eid al-Fitr holiday, while security measures were intensified across the province to prevent any further attacks.
Earlier the source put the toll at 40 killed and more than 30 wounded by the truck bomb explosion.
Diyala province, which stretches from eastern edges of Baghdad to the Iranian border, has long been the stronghold of al-Qaida militant groups and hotbed of insurgency and sectarian violence since the U.S.-led invasion broke out in 2003.
The security situation in Iraq has drastically deteriorated since June 2014, when bloody clashes broke out between security forces and Islamic State militants. Enditem