Suicide Bombing, Shootouts Kill 55 in Iraq

Suicide Bombing, Shootouts Kill 55 in IraqSuicide Bombing, Shootouts Kill 55 in Iraq

Around 55 people were killed in Iraq in attacks on Saturday that targeted a Shia Muslim gathering, a police checkpoint and the family of a Sunni paramilitary leader opposed to the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, according to security and medical sources.

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

The heaviest toll was caused by a suicide bomber who detonated an explosive vest in the middle of a Shia gathering in Baghdad, killing at least 41 people and wounding 33.

The explosion went off inside a tent filled with people taking part in rituals to mourn the killing of Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) grandson, Imam Hussein (PBUH), in the 7th century.

IS claimed the attack in an online statement.

Some people were also in the tent to mourn the death of a local resident, authorities said. The tent was set up in a crowded market in the city's northern al-Shaab District.

Gunmen believed to belong to IS, a Sunni extremist group, earlier in the day staged two attacks north of Baghdad, one targeting a police checkpoint and the other the house of a Sunni militia chief who supports the government, police sources said.

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