January 5, 2017 / 7:25 AM / 9 months ago

Two Islamic State car bombs in Baghdad kill at least 14: sources

People look at a burned vehicle at the site of car bomb attack in a busy square at Baghdad's sprawling Sadr City district, in Iraq. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Two car bombs in Baghdad claimed by Islamic State killed at least 14 people on Thursday, police and medics said, part of a surge in violence across the capital at a time when U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are trying to drive the militants from Mosul in the north.

The first blast shook Baghdad’s eastern al-Obeidi area during the morning rush, killing six and wounding 15. Islamic State said in an online statement it had targeted a gathering of Shi‘ite Muslims, whom it considers apostates.

The second explosion hit the central district of Bab al-Moadham near a security checkpoint, killing eight. Both bombs had been left in parked vehicles.

More than 60 people have been killed in Baghdad in attacks over the past week as Islamic State intensifies its campaign of violence in the capital while a 100,000-strong alliance of Iraqi forces extends its advances against the group in Mosul.

Mosul is Islamic State’s last major stronghold in the country. The group has lost most of the territory it seized in northern and western Iraq in 2014, and ceding Mosul would probably spell the end of its self-styled caliphate.

Lieutenant General Talib Shaghati, Iraq’s joint operations commander, told Reuters on Wednesday that pro-government troops had retaken about 70 percent of Mosul’s eastern districts since an offensive began on Oct. 17.

Reporting by Saif Hameed; Additional reporting by Mostafa Hashem in Cairo; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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