A massive car bomb ripped through a used car market in southern Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 45 people in the deadliest such attack in 2017, security officials said.
The Amaq propaganda agency linked to the Islamic State group (IS), which has claimed nearly all such attacks recently, reported the blast and described it as targeting “a gathering of Shiites”.
Mobile phone footage circulated on social media showed charred bodies and extensive destruction in the Bayaa neighbourhood where the explosion went off around 4:15 pm (1315 GMT).
“A terrorist car bomb attack struck near car dealerships in Bayaa and resulted in the deaths of 45 people,” a spokesman for the Baghdad Operations Command said in a statement.
An interior ministry official gave the same figure and said at least 60 people were also wounded.
He said the emergency services were struggling to cope with the scope of the attack and warned that the death toll may rise.
The explosion occurred in the same Bayaa neighbourhood in southern Baghdad where a car bomb blast killed at least four people on Tuesday.
At least 11 people were also killed in a suicide car bomb attack claimed by IS on Wednesday in a northern neighbourhood of the Iraqi capital.
Baghdad was rocked by a wave of deadly suicide bombings during the first days of 2017 but relatively few explosions had been reported since then until this week.