IS-claimed suicide blasts kill 21 in Baghdad

Published September 17, 2015
Iraqi police and civilians stand at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad on September 17, 2015. — AFP
Iraqi police and civilians stand at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad on September 17, 2015. — AFP
Iraqis stand at Baghdad's Wathba square following a bomb attack nearby on September 17, 2015. — AFP
Iraqis stand at Baghdad's Wathba square following a bomb attack nearby on September 17, 2015. — AFP
An Iraqi policeman displays the heavily damaged vest of a colleague who was killed in a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad on September 17, 2015. — AFP
An Iraqi policeman displays the heavily damaged vest of a colleague who was killed in a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad on September 17, 2015. — AFP
People gather at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, September 17, 2015. — REUTERS
People gather at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, September 17, 2015. — REUTERS
A man walk past clothes scattered at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, September 17, 2015. — REUTERS
A man walk past clothes scattered at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, September 17, 2015. — REUTERS

BAGHDAD: Two suicide bombers targeted Iraqi police checkpoints in commercial areas in central Baghdad during rush hour Thursday, killing at least 21 people, officials said.

The self-styled Islamic State (IS) group swiftly claimed responsibility for the blasts.

Both attacks were carried out by bombers on foot, wearing explosives-laden vests, two police officers said.

One bomber struck in Baghdad's Bab al-Sharji area, killing nine civilians and three police officers there. At least 45 were wounded in that explosion.

The second bomber hit in Al-Wathba Square, killing nine people, including four policemen, and wounding 31.

Two medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to talk to reporters.

Iraq is going through its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of US troops.

The IS controls large swaths of the country's north and west after capturing Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul and the majority of the western Anbar province last year.

In a statement posted on its Twitter accounts, Daesh or the IS claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying it targeted police and Shia paramilitary forces.

The Associated Press could not immediately verify the authenticity of the statement, but its language and phrasing is consistent with past IS claims of responsibility.

Following its blitz last year, the IS - which splintered off from Iraq's Al Qaeda branch - now holds about a third of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in its self-declared "caliphate."

Since the emergence of IS extremists, Baghdad has seen near-daily attacks, with roadside bombs, suicide blasts and assassinations targeting Iraqi forces and government officials, with significant casualties among the civilian population.

The violence has killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands of Iraqis.

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