IRAQ BAGHDAD CAR BOMB attack.jpg
Photograph: EPA/AHMED ALI

The Iraqi capital Baghdad on Wednesday saw one of its bloodiest days this year with at least 86 people killed in three separate bomb attacks, according to officials.

The first attack rocked a marketplace in the Shiite eastern suburb of Sadr City, leaving at least 64 dead according to hospital and security officials.

The blast happened during the shoppers' rush hour in the market, causing severe damage to a number of residential buildings and stores in the area, witnesses told dpa.

The district is currently under tight security measures with police forces blocking the roads leading to the explosion site for fear that other blasts might happen, the witnesses added.

The Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for the assault in a statement circulated on social media. It said a suicide attacker had blown up an explosive-rigged car at a gathering of Shiite militias in Sadr City in Baghdad.

dpa could not independently verify the authenticity of the statement.

In February Sadr City was the scene of a suicide bomb attack on a market in which over 70 people lost their lives.

That bombing too was claimed by Islamic State, which frequently targets markets and busy streets in mainly Shiite areas and pilgrims attending Shiite religious occasions.

Later on Wednesday, 14 people were killed and 40 injured when an suicide attacker blew himself up in the Rabie Street area, a security official and eye witnesses said.

A car bomb attack in the nearby Kadhemiyah district, in the north of the city, caused eight deaths and 22 injuries, according to the official and eyewitnesses.

Islamic State, which controls a swathe of Sunni Arab northern and western Iraq, has lost some ground to security forces in recent months, including the western provincial capital of Ramadi.

Security forces are currently preparing for an operation to isolate and eventually recapture the northern city of Mosul, Iraq's second largest, which fell to the jihadists in 2014.

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