An explosives-laden car bomb ripped through a commercial area in a predominantly Shia neighbourhood of Baghdad on Wednesday, killing as many as 50 people, Iraqi officials said.
The explosion struck a crowded outdoor market in the Iraqi capital’s eastern district of Sadr City, police said, adding that the blast also wounded up to 60 people.
The SUV packed with explosives went off near a beauty salon at rush hour; most of the victims were women and many of the wounded are in critical condition, sources told Reuters.
Shortly after the explosion, the Sunni extremist Islamic State group, which sees Shia Muslims as apostates, claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement.
It says the assault was carried out by a suicide bomber, but Iraqi officials denied that. ISIS also claimed a twin suicide bombing in Sadr City in February that killed 70 people.
Security has gradually improved in Baghdad, which was the target of daily bombings a decade ago, but violence directed against both the security forces and civilians is still frequent and large blasts sometimes set off reprisal attacks.
The fight against Islamic State has exacerbated a long-running sectarian conflict in Iraq, mostly between the Shia majority and the Sunni minority.
Sectarian violence also threatens to undermine U.S.-backed efforts to dislodge the militant group from vast areas of the north and west of Iraq that they seized in 2014.