Abadi Calls for Elimination of Isis ‘Sleeper Cells’ After Blasts Killed 31

Abadi Calls for Elimination of Isis ‘Sleeper Cells’ After Blasts Killed 31

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for the elimination of Islamic State (ISIS) “sleeper cells” after a twin suicide bombing killed 31 people in Baghdad in the second such attack in three days.

Abadi held an emergency meeting with the Joint Operations Command and intelligence officials after the attack, his office said, asking them to "eliminate ISIS sleeper cells" and ensure the security of civilians.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but most such attacks in Iraq are the work of Islamic State.

The bombing comes after Abadi's government declared victory over ISIS in December and as the country gears up for parliamentary elections.

"Two suicide bombers blew themselves up in Tayyaran Square in central Baghdad," said General Saad Maan, spokesman for the Joint Operations Command which includes the army and police.

A police officer reported "31 dead and 94 wounded".

Tayyaran Square is a bustling commercial center and a place where day laborers gather in the early morning waiting for jobs. It has been the site of deadly attacks in the past.

Iraqi analyst Hisham al-Hashemi said attacks at the square since 2011 have killed 180 people, "often in the run-up to elections or just after the polls".

They aim to "create chaos and exacerbate sectarian divisions", he said.