Death toll in Iraq suicide bombing rises to 165

The Hadi Centre, which used to be full of busy clothes shops and cafes, was gutted. PHOTO: REUTERS

The number of people killed in Sunday’s suicide bomb attack in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, has risen to 165, interior ministry officials say.

The government has declared three days of mourning after the huge blast, which also injured 225 people.

A lorry packed with explosives was detonated in the Karrada district while families were shopping for the holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

It is believed to be the deadliest single bomb attack in Iraq since 2007.

BBC revealed that rescuers said whole families had been killed. Many people were badly burned.

So-called Islamic State (IS) has said it carried out the suicide attack.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was greeted by angry crowds when he visited the mainly Shia Muslim area in the hours after the bombing.

His office said Mr Abadi understood the reaction of residents and would increase security by banning “magic wand” fake bomb detectors and improving vehicle inspections at roads into the city.

The fake bomb detectors, some based on cheap devices for finding golf balls, were sold in large numbers to Iraq by fraudsters.

One British businessman, who was jailed for 10 years, sold more than 6,000 devices to Iraq for up to $40,000 (£30,000) each.

The UK banned their export to Iraq in 2010 and several other fraudsters received prison sentences. Despite warnings that the devices were useless, the Iraqi security forces continued to use them.

Men continued to dig through rubble at the Karrada site on Monday, searching for the remains of those still missing.

Black banners were hung from nearby buildings bearing the names of victims and detailing their funerals.

In a statement on the attack, the Iraqi justice ministry said (in Arabic) that a group of prisoners convicted of terrorist crimes would be put to death in the immediate future.

The bombing at around midnight on Saturday came a week after Iraqi forces recaptured the city of Falluja from IS.

Reports said a refrigerator van had been packed with explosives and left near the popular Hadi Centre.

Footage from the minutes just after the blast showed the whole area engulfed in flames.