Bomb attacks kill at least 12 in Iraq
BAGHDAD (AP) — Two bomb attacks, one of which ripped through a sprawling Baghdad market, killed at least 12 people in Iraq on Thursday, officials said.
The Sunni militant offensive that has overrun much of northern and western Iraq in the past five weeks has caused a spike in violence as fighting rages on new battlefronts across the country. At the same time, smaller scale attacks — some of them targeting checkpoints, others hitting purely civilian areas — remain a facet of daily life.
Thursday’s first attack struck Baghdad’s Shorja Market, an open air emporium that is one of the most popular places for residents to buy foodstuffs, clothes and electronics. Over the past decade, it has been a frequent target for bombings.
A police officer said a bomb hidden on a wooden cart exploded near a Shiite mosque in the market, killing at least five people and wounding 21, a police officer said. A medical official in Baghdad confirmed the casualty figures.
The Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for the blast. In a statement posted on a militant website frequently used by the group, it said that the attack was a suicide bombing carried out by a non-Arab man with the nom de guerre of Abu Bakr al-Australi.
Military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said an initial investigation indicated the explosion was indeed a suicide attack and not a roadside bomb.
Shopkeepers in the market appeared to support that statement. They reported seeing a suspicious man trying to get into the mosque right before the explosion occurred. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Baghdad has been on edge since the Sunni militant blitz led by the Islamic State extremist group seized the northern city of Mosul, vowing to push south to the capital. The city has seen several small scale bombings in recent weeks, but it has so far been free of the large, coordinated attacks that plagued it in the run-up to April elections.
In the town of Taji, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the capital, a suicide bomber rammed his car into a military checkpoint, killing four soldiers and three civilians, a police officer said. Thirteen people were wounded.
A medical official in a hospital in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Kazimiyah confirmed the casualty figures.
All of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.