| 5 March 2024, Tuesday |

Three hanged for Iraq bombing that killed more than 300 people

Iraq has executed three persons convicted of being involved in a truck explosion in Baghdad in 2016 that killed over 300 people and wounded hundreds more.

The device went off on a night out during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

It was the bloodiest single bombing in Iraq since the 2003 invasion conducted by the United States.

The Islamic State (IS) has acknowledged responsibility for the attack. IS has been beaten and has lost territory, yet it is still active.

The killings took place on Sunday or Monday, according to Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s office. It did not name those who were executed.

A government source told AFP news agency that Ghazwan al-Zawbaee, held to be the IS mastermind behind the attack, was among those put to death. Zawbaee had been captured and returned to Iraq in 2021.

The prime minister informed victims’ families that “the rightful punishment of death sentence” had been carried out against “three key criminals found guilty of their involvement in the terrorist bombing”, his office said.

On 3 July 2016 a vehicle filled with explosives was blown up next to a crowded shopping centre in Karrada, a mainly Shia Muslim area of the Iraqi capital.

Many of the victims were killed by a fire that ripped through the building after the bomb blast.

Interior Minister Mohammed Ghabban resigned in the wake of the blast.

Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the then-Prime Minister, accused Zawbaee of being the “primary culprit” behind the incident and “many others.”

IS, a Sunni Muslim group, once controlled 88,000 square kilometers (34,000 square miles) of territory ranging from eastern Iraq to western Syria and ruled over about eight million people.

Despite the group’s defeat on the battlefield in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria two years later, thousands of fighters are thought to be operating in both countries.

The UN assessed in March that IS had “5,000 to 7,000 members and supporters” in Iraq and adjacent Syria, “roughly half of whom are fighters.”