51 killed in Baghdad car bomb blast

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A picture taken with a mobile phone on February 16, 2017 shows burnt vehicles at the scene of a blast by a massive car bomb, which killed dozens in a used car market in southern Baghdad. The Amaq propaganda agency linked to the Islamic State group (IS), which has claimed nearly all such attacks recently, reported the blast and described it as targeting "a gathering of Shiites". / AFP / Ahmad MOUSA (Photo credit should read AHMAD MOUSA/AFP/Getty Images)

A car bomb explosion killed 51 people and wounded at least 56 others in southwestern Baghdad on Thursday, a security official told CNN. The blast targeted a busy car market in the predominately Shiite al-Bayaa district of the Iraqi capital, the official said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. However, a statement from the US Department of State blamed ISIS for the attack.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the horrible terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS targeting a car dealership in Baghdad, Iraq, today,” said Mark Toner, the department’s acting spokesman. “We extend our deepest condolences to the victims’ families and friends, and wish a full and quick recovery to those injured.”

Car bombs and roadside bombs are not uncommon in Baghdad, but in 2017, ISIS has already carried out several attacks across the capital and killed dozens of people.

The explosion came less than a day after another car bomb rocked eastern Baghdad, killing five people and wounding at least 20 others, according to Saad Maan, spokesman for Baghdad’s Operations Command. That attack happened in the predominately Shiite neighborhood of Habibiya, he said in a statement.

Protests over the weekend in Baghdad also turned violent. A police officer was killed and seven others wounded during clashes between supporters of powerful Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and security forces, the security operations command said Saturday.