Bombings in Baghdad kill at least 72

At least 72 people were killed and more than 140 wounded by three bombings in Baghdad on Tuesday, police and medical sources said, extending the deadliest spate of attacks in the Iraqi capital so far this year.

Fears are growing that Baghdad could relapse into bloodshed of a decade ago

Security forces and citizens inspect the scene after a suicide car bombing hit a crowded outdoor market in Baghdad's eastern Shia neighbourhood of Sadr City, Tuesday. (Karim Kadim/Associated Press)

At least 72 people were killed and more than 140 wounded by three bombings in Baghdad on Tuesday, police and medical sources said, extending the deadliest spate of attacks in the Iraqi capital so far this year.

ISIS claimed one suicide bombing which killed 38 people and wounded over 70 in a marketplace in the northern, mainly Shia Muslim district of al-Shaab.

A car bomb in nearby Shia Sadr City killed at least 28 dead and 57 wounded, and another car blew up in the mixed Shia-Sunni neighbourhood of al-Rasheed, south of the capital, killing six and wounding 21, the sources said.

People gather at the site of one of the bombs, by a suicide bomber, which took place at a market in Baghdad's al-Shaab district. (Wissm al-Okili/Reuters)

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the arrest of the security official in charge of al-Shaab's security after the attack, Abadi's office said in a statement, without giving a reason for the detention.

100 dead in attacks last week

Attacks claimed by ISIS in and around the city last week killed more than 100 people, the highest death toll in so few days so far this year, sparking anger and street protests over the government's failure to ensure security.

Freelance journalist Saud Murrani told CBC News that Tuesday's attacks are in the same place as one last week. He added that it's likely the death toll will increase, given the fact that the attack "took place in a very crowded time of the day, targeting very crowded locations of Baghdad."

Murrani said there is "political chaos" in parts of the country.

The attackers targeted Shia-dominated neighbourhoods. (Wissm al-Okili/Reuters)

"It [the bombings] is an attempt by the Islamic State to be refuelling the conflict and tension between the Sunni Muslims and the Shi'ite [Shia] Muslims in Iraq and show their presence in the outskirts of Baghdad by conducting such bloody attacks," he told CBC News.

He added there is a sense of fear among people in the city. 

"But given the fact that Baghdad has experienced such tragic events over the past decade, they would actually feel fear for a few days and then afterwards life will go back to normal in the market areas and just like nothing happened."

Increasingly regular suicide bombings

Security had improved in Baghdad in recent years as sectarian tensions waned and the city's perimeter was fortified.

ISIS, the ultra-hardline Sunni militants who control parts of north and west Iraq, have not tried to take the capital but carry out increasingly regular suicide bombings there, hitting Shia areas and government targets.

Sadiq sits next to his father, Jafar Abdullah, a victim of bombing attacks last week, also in Sadr City. (Karim Kadim/Associated Press)

With the latest death tolls, fears are growing that Baghdad could relapse into the bloodletting of a decade ago when sectarian-motivated suicide bombings killed scores of people every week. This has cranked up pressure on Abadi who is struggling to solve a political crisis or risk losing control of parts of Baghdad to ISIS militants.

Away from the capital, Iraq's military is waging a counter offensive against the group.

Abadi has said the crisis, sparked by his attempt to reshuffle the cabinet in an anti-corruption bid, is hampering the fight against ISIS and creating space for more insurgent attacks on the civilian population.

A spokesman for the Baghdad Operations Command told state television the attacker in al-Shaab had detonated an explosives-filled vest along with a planted bomb.

Initial investigations revealed that the bomber was a woman, he said.

ISIS said in a statement distributed online by supporters that one of its fighters had targeted Shia militiamen with hand grenade and a suicide vest. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the other two bombings.

with files from CBC News