By Linda Bordoni & Nathan Morley
Pope Francis on Thursday condemned a twin bomb attack in a Baghdad market, and described the attacks as “a senseless act of brutality.”
At least 32 people were killed in the suicide bombings and over 100 others wounded.
In a telegram, sent on his behalf by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the Pope said he is praying “for the deceased victims and their families, for the injured and for the emergency personnel in attendance."
He went on to say he hopes that Iraq will continue to work to overcome violence with "fraternity, solidarity and peace," and he invoked the Lord’s blessing upon the nation and its people.
Pope Francis is scheduled to make the first Apostolic Visit ever to Iraq from 5 to 8 March, visiting Baghdad and four other towns.
Rare attacks on Iraqi capital
In recent years, suicide bombings have become rare in the capital since the military defeat of the so-called Islamic State, so this attack has shocked the nation.
Reports suggest that bombers blew themselves in central Baghdad as they were pursued by police.
The attack was carried out by two suicide bombers who detonated themselves at a busy clothes flea market in Tayaran Square.
Medical services rushed to market to take the many wounded to hospitals and clinics across the capital.
As yet, no group has said it carried out the latest attack, but the so-called Islamic State is thought to be behind the atrocity. A recent UN report estimates that more than 10,000 IS fighters remain active in Iraq and Syria.
It is understood that sleeper cells continue an insurgency in the countryside and small towns, but rarely venture into the capital.
The last deadly suicide attack in Baghdad was three years ago, when over 30 people were killed in the very same location.
This atrocity comes just days after the government said an early general election would be postponed from June until at least October this year.