BAGHDAD – Bombs went off early Sunday in two crowded commercial areas in, killing at least 23 people and wounding 61, according to hospital and police officials.
The bombings came near the end of the holy month of Ramadan when the streets were filled with young people and families out after sundown.
In the first attack, a car bomb exploded in the Karada district in central Baghdad, killing 18 people and wounding 45. Shortly afterward, an improvised explosive device went off in eastern Baghdad, killing 5 people and wounding 16.
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The officials who provided the casualty figures spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in the Karada district in a communique distributed on Telegram and 桑拿会所, according to the SITE Intelligence Group which monitors jihadi online activity. The communique said a suicide car bomber targeted Shiites.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the second bombing.
Nearly an hour after the attack in central Baghdad, ambulances could still be heard rushing to the site. An eyewitness said the explosion set off fires at nearby clothing and cellphone shops.
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The Baghdad attacks come just over a week after Iraqi forces declared the city of Fallujah “fully liberated” from ISIS. Over the last year, Iraq forces have racked up territorial gains against IS, retaking the city of Ramadi and the towns of Hit and Rutba, all in Iraq’s vast Anbar province west of Baghdad.
Despite the government’s battlefield victories, IS has repeatedly shown it remains capable of launching attacks far from the front-lines.
READ MORE: Fallujah fully liberated from IS group, Iraqi commander says
ISIS still controls Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul as well as significant patches of territory in the country’s north and west.
At the height of the extremist group’s power in 2014, IS rendered nearly a third of the country out of government control. Now, IS is estimated to control only 14 per cent of Iraqi territory, according to the office of Iraq’s prime minister.