BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least nine people were killed in Baghdad late on Monday in a car bomb attack claimed by Islamic State near a hospital in a central district, police and hospital sources said.
A suicide bomber had targeted a gathering of Shi’ite Muslims in the Karrada district, according to a statement circulated online by the Amaq news agency, which supports the ultra-hardline Sunni militant group.
The police and hospital sources said 20 people were also wounded in the blast and they expected the death toll to rise.
The fight against Islamic State, which seized a third of Iraq’s territory in 2014, has exacerbated a long-running sectarian conflict in Iraq, mostly between the Shi’ite majority and the Sunni minority.
The militants have lost ground in the past year to U.S.-backed government forces and Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias, but such bombings show they can still strike outside the territory they control in northern and western Iraq.
Monday’s blast occurred not far from the site of an Islamic State suicide attack in July that killed 324 people in one of the deadliest bombings of its sort in Iraq since U.S.-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein 13 years ago.
Reporting by Kareem Raheem and Stephen Kalin; Editing by Tom Brown