ISIS Claims Responsibility for Iraq Attacks That Left at Least 30 Dead

January 11th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for coordinated attacks in Baghdad on Monday that killed at least 30 people and left dozens others wounded, according to news reports.

Related: ISIS Is Suffering More Than Just Territorial Losses

One attack at Baghdad's Jawhara Mall, which lasted over an hour and included a car bomb and militants outfitted with suicide vests, caused at least 12 deaths, according to reports. Another attack involving twin blasts at a cafe near a casino in the town of Muqdadiya, north of the Iraqi capital, killed about 20.

An video posted on Twitter alleged to show the scene at the Jawhara Mall.

The attacks marked one of the worst days of Islamic State-linked violence in recent months. The locations of the attacks were suspected to be targeted because of being gathering places for Shi'ite Muslims.

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The group said they were behind the attack in an online statement, according to the SITE intelligence group, which tracks terrorist activity online. The purported statement from the group claimed the attack killed more than 90 in the Iraqi capital's Shi'ite east, though the official estimated death toll was less than that. 

The statement allegedly warned of more attacks, a message seemingly directed at Iraq's Shi'ite Muslims. The Jawhara Mall, in the city's east, is reportedly a popular gathering spot for Baghdad's Shi'ite community, who subscribe an interpretation of the Islamic faith that differs from Sunnism, an extreme version of which is the theological doctrine followed by the Islamic State. Tensions between the two interpretations have increased in recent years, often taking the form of violence.

Related: ISIS Lost a Bunch of Territory This Year

Terrorist attacks are nothing new in Baghdad, let alone Iraq, where the Islamic State controls swaths of territory in the country's northwest. But they often do not garner the same levels of media attention as strikes in places where they are much rarer, such as Western cities, despite equitable levels of terror and carnage.

Islamic State has suffered a number of losses in recent months, with ramped up coalition air strikes and efforts from Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces fracturing supply lines and upsetting the control of tactical strongholds by the group. Some have speculated that a recent spate of smaller scale high profile strikes are one sign that the group is feeling pressure to reassert its strength in the face of massive military losses.