The attack, which occurred shortly after midnight in the middle-class neighborhood of Karrada, a busy area of cafes, shops and hotels, was the deadliest single attack in Baghdad this year and was the first major assault in the capital since Iraqi forces retook Falluja from the Islamic State late last month. Falluja had been in the hands of the Islamic State for two-and-a-half years, longer than any other in Iraq or Syria, and many Iraqis had feared that after its liberation the Islamic State would strike back with more terror attacks in Baghdad.
The Sunni extremists of the Islamic State almost immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying it had killed a gathering of Shiite Muslims. But Karrada is a mixed area where Iraqis of all identities gather to do ordinary things: mainly to shop and eat.
The bombing came just after the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, took responsibility for an attack on a restaurant in Bangladesh that left 20 people dead, some of them hacked apart by swords and knives. And it followed by a few days the coordinated suicide attack on Istanbul’s main airport that killed more than 40 people, for which Turkish authorities blamed the Islamic State, although the terrorist group itself did not claim responsibility.