At least 24 people were killed in a suicide attack on a northern Baghdad neighborhood Tuesday night, as violence continues to rage in and around the Iraqi capital.
A bomber detonated a car packed with explosives at a checkpoint in Kadhimiya, which is around three miles from the city center, police and health ministry sources confirmed to VICE News. More than 35 people were wounded, and eight policemen were among the dead.
Kadhimiya is regarded as a Shiite holy city and contains a shrine and mosque over the graves of two Shiite Imams. The checkpoint was unusually crowded with families travelling to the neighborhood, the sources said, leading to the high death toll. Shiites traditionally visit the city during Ramadan to spend their time near the shrine until the sun rises and their fast begins.
Also on Tuesday, a car bomb on a commercial street in Nahrawan, southwest of Baghdad, killed four civilians and wounded 14. Mortars rained down on policemen in Saba al Bor northwest of the capital, leaving two dead, and an IED planted near a police station in Abu Ghraib to the west targeted a police patrol killing four and wounding six.
Meanwhile, eight police officers and volunteers died in clashes with extremist Sunni insurgents in Fallujah and six Shiite volunteers died battling militants in Jurf al-Sakhar, southeast of Baghdad, security and health sources said.
Tuesday’s casualties are the latest in what is proving to be a bloody few days in central Iraq. Sixteen people died in the Baghdad area on the night of July 21. Mortar rounds exploded in Shiite areas of Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad, leaving 11 civilians dead and 31 injured, while an IED in Abu Ghraib killed five government troops, the Associated Press reported.
On July 19, 27 died in a series of bombings targeting predominantly Shiite areas in the capital. The first and largest explosion took place when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive-packed car at a police checkpoint, killing nine and injuring 21. Four other car bombs followed in districts around the city, leaving 20 dead. It was the worst loss of life in Baghdad since hardline Sunni militants headed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) overran large swathes of northern Iraq in a lightning offensive last month.
Meanwhile, forces loyal to Iraq's Shiite-led government have been struggling to counter the threat posed by ISIS-led insurgents. The army, backed by Shiite militia and volunteers, has been fighting them on several fronts and now appear to have halted ISIS’s advance. However, they are struggling to push the insurgents back and reclaim territory.
Major assaults launched by Iraqi forces have repeatedly been repelled, including a number backed by armored vehicles and air support on former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. The latest was foiled last week, when an assault by government troops and Shiite militia from the south of the city was forced to withdraw under heavy mortar bombardment and sniper fire.
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