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Al-Qaida offshoot claims suicide blast in Baghdad

| Thursday, July 17, 2014, 8:18 p.m.

BAGHDAD — A suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State militant group killed three people on Thursday, in the center of Baghdad and a second bomb outside the Iraqi capital killed six people, police and medics said.

The bomb in central Baghdad, claimed by the al-Qaida offshoot, exploded near the Shiite mosque of Abdullah bin Rawah in the main wholesale market of Shorja, the sources said.

The Islamic State said on an affiliated Twitter feed that a man it called Abu Bakr al-Australi (the Australian) had detonated explosives in a vest he was wearing near the mosque.

The other suicide bomber detonated an explosive-rigged car at a checkpoint on the northern exit from Baghdad, killing six and wounding 18, most of them policemen, sources said.

The army and allied Shiite militia forces are trying to push back Sunni insurgents, who swept through northern Iraq last month to within 45 miles of Baghdad.

The fighting has exacerbated a political crisis in Baghdad, where Shiite caretaker Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is trying to form a government in the face of opposition from Sunnis, Kurds and some Shiites, three months after Iraq held a parliamentary election.

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