Seven mosques and dozen shops bombed in Baghdad

BAGHDAD: On Tuesday, In Eastern Iraq, at least seven Sunni mosques and dozens of shops were firebombed; security sources and local officials said which by claimed by Islamic State a day after 23 people were killed in two blasts.

Hospital and security sources said that ten people were also shot and killed in Muqdadiya, 80 kilometers north east of Baghdad.

Whereas, Gunmen stormed into a Baghdad mall on Monday after setting off a car bomb and launching a suicide attack at its entrance, killing at least 18 people and wounding 50 in the city’s mainly Shiite east, Iraqi officials said.

But Iraqi forces soon surrounded the building and landed troops on the roof. They clashed with the attackers inside, killing two of them, arresting another four and declaring the standoff over.

Authorities shut down the city’s highly fortified Green Zone, home to a number of foreign embassies and most of the country’s political elite. A number of major roads, shopping malls and bridges around the Iraqi capital were also closed for fear of follow-up attacks.

Also on Monday evening, a car bomb in southeast Baghdad in a crowded market area killed five and wounded 12, according to hospital and police officials.

A widow who fled to nearby Khanaqin after seeing two mosques engulfed by black smoke, Um Ibrahim said that, “It’s worse than hell. I hid my two sons under a pile of clothes inside a wardrobe to avoid being discovered.”

The men had been turned back from a checkpoint near Muqdadiya run by a Shia militia. On their way back to Baquba, gunmen sprayed their vehicle with automatic gunfire.

The local head of police intelligence, was leading a force to check tips about a suspected car bomb parked on a highway linking Baghdad to Baquba.

 He called it “a desperate attempt by terrorist gangs after our forces’ victories in Ramadi and other areas”.

Last year, a column of 3,000 Shia militia fighters arrived at a military base near Ramadi as Baghdad moved to retake the western Iraqi city that has fallen to Islamic State militants in the biggest defeat for the government since mid-2014.

At the same time, US led warplanes stepped up raids against IS fighters, conducting 19 strikes near Ramadi over the past 72 hours at the request of the Iraqi security forces, a coalition spokesman said.

The Shia militia, known as Hashid Shaabi or Popular Mobilization, was ordered to mobilize after the city, the capital of Anbar province, was overrun at that time.