BAGHDAD: An Islamic State car bomb killed 24 people in a busy square in Baghdad’s sprawling Sadr City district on Monday, and the militants cut a key road north from the capital to Mosul, their last major stronghold in the country.
An online statement distributed by Amaq news agency, which supports Islamic State, said the ultra-hardline Sunni group had targeted a gathering of Shi’ite Muslims, whom it considers apostates. Sixty-seven people were wounded in the blast. U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are currently fighting to push Islamic State from the northern city of Mosul, but are facing fierce resistance. The group has lost most of the territory it seized in a blitz across northern and western Iraq in 2014.
The recapture of Mosul would probably spell the end for its self-styled caliphate, but the militants would still be capable of fighting a guerrilla-style insurgency in Iraq, and plotting or inspiring attacks on the West.
Three bombs killed 29 people across the capital on Saturday, and an attack near the southern city of Najaf on Sunday left seven policemen dead. Monday’s blast in Sadr City hit a square where day laborers typically gather.
Nine of the victims were women in a passing minibus. Their charred bodies were visible inside the burnt-out remains of the vehicle. Blood stained the ground nearby.
A separate blast near a hospital in central Baghdad killed one civilian and wounded nine, police and medical sources said.
“The terrorists will attempt to attack civilians in order to make up for their losses, but we assure the Iraqi people and the world that we are able to end terrorism and shorten its life,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told reporters after meeting with visiting French President Francois Hollande. Agencies
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