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  • People gather at the site of a suicide bomb attack in the city

    People gather at the site of a suicide bomb attack in the city's northern al-Shaab district in Baghdad, Iraq October 15, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 October 2016

The Islamic State group claimed the attacks in an online statement as a response to the launching of an offensive to take back Mosul, its stronghold. 

Around 55 people were killed in Iraq in attacks on Saturday that targeted a Shi'ite Muslim gathering, a police check-point and the family of a Sunni paramilitary leader opposed to Islamic State, according to security and medical sources.

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The heaviest toll was caused by a suicide bomber who detonated an explosive vest in the middle of a funeral tent in a crowded marketplace in the Shaab neighbouhood in the north of the Baghdad, killing at least 41 people and wounding 33.

The Islamic State group claimed the attacks in an online statement.

The escalation in violence comes as Iraqi forces are getting ready to launch an offensive to take back Mosul, the last Iraqi city still under control of the extremist organization. 

Many Shia pilgrims are in the city, taking part in mourning rituals in the area to commemorate the killing of Prophet Muhammad's grandson and early Shia imam, Hussein, in the 7th century.

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The Islamic State group unleashed a campaign of deadly attacks against the country in 2014, seizing the northern city of Mosul and declaring it as its so-called headquarters. 

Extremists carried out similar attacks on the capital repeatedly in the past year, attempting to inflame sectarian tensions between Shia and Sunni Muslims.


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