A lethal car bomb in Iraqi Mosul, the first since the city was recaptured from jihadists, has awakened the residents and made them frightened that previous nightmares return to haunt them.
The explosion at the end of Thursday hit the popular Abu Layla restaurant in Mosul, the northern city that served as the headquarters of the Islamic State Group in Iraq for three years.
When residents woke up on the scene of devastation on Friday morning, they feared that their bloody past with IS was not yet behind them.
"We were liberated, so we thought security was back," Mossab, a 25-year-old restaurant employee, told AFP. "But now it is worse than ever."
Three people were killed and 12 wounded in the bombing, medical and security sources said.
The restaurant suffered considerable damage. On one side, which is at a crossroads, the windows seem to have been blown away and the façade has been partly slid.
The cars in the street all had broken or cracked windshields and were covered with black ash and debris.
Mossab's car, parked nearby, was one of them.
"I worked four years to save to buy it, but it all went in an instant," he said devastated.
Iraqi security forces were deployed outside the restaurant Friday and have been on guard while the cleaning teams worked to remove the debris.
Residents came to inspect the damage nervously.
Khodor Ali, a 38-year-old who lives in the neighborhood, was worried that there would be more violence.
"If the security situation stays that way, then our future is in the gutter," he told AFP.
& # 39; They told us that IS is ready & # 39;
Troops and paramilitaries recaptured Mosul in July last year, months before the government declared that IS was finally defeated in Iraq.
But the group still performs bloody hits, mostly in the rugged mountains of the north and in desert areas along the western border with Syria.
Security forces often identify suspect jihadists or break up the cells of the sleep cells and still reveal jihadist tunnels and shelters in Mosul.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Thursday's attack, but a statement from security forces accused it of 'terrorists & # 39;
Ali said Iraqi officials were at least partly responsible for Thursday night's attack.
"If they could not protect the city, they should not stay," he said angrily.
"The only thing these officials want are senior posts, they told us: & # 39; IS is finished & # 39; – but then there is a car bomb that kills innocent people. & # 39;
& # 39; Too many decision makers & # 39;
City officials have put their finger on the security forces deployed in Mosul.
"One of the main reasons for a deterioration in the security situation is that there are too many decision-makers," said MP for Mosul, Ahmad al-Jarba.
Between the central military command of Iraq and the paramilitary Hashed al-Shaabi, both stationed in and around Mosul, there were mixed signals about safety, Jarba said.
He said that endemic corruption had also played a role.
Iraq is the 12th most corrupt country in the world, according to the Transparency International monitoring group.
The residents of Mosul have carried a large part of the renovation themselves, with the opening of restaurants and shops along the Tigris River that divides the city into two.
But after the explosion of Thursday, the ghost of IS seems closer than they had thought.