Four civilians were killed on Friday in blasts caused by an explosion in an arms depot in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, witnesses said.

Twelve others were injured in the blasts that rocked several areas in the city after the explosion in the depot located in eastern Baghdad, the witnesses added.

Spokesman for the Baghdad security operations room, Saad Maan, said the explosion had caused “civilian casualties.” He did not give specific figures.

The depot explosion caused a random launch of shells and Katyusha rockets that landed into neighbouring areas, police said.

They hit residential houses, markets and stores in these areas, causing damage.

Images posted by independent Iraqi website Alsumaria News showed plumes of smoke purportedly resulting from the blasts in several areas in Baghdad.

The depot belongs to the powerful Shiite militia, the Popular Mobilization, a force aligned with government forces in battling the Islamic State terrorist group, Iraqi media reported.

At least nine soldiers were killed and 29 injured overnight in a surprise attack by Islamic State militants on an army outpost in northern Iraq, a military source told dpa.

The assault took place near the area of Dhuluiya, around 70 kilometres north of Baghdad.

“The situation is now under control after Daesh elements were evicted from the area,” the source said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

In recent months, Iraqi forces, backed by US-led air power, have regained several areas from Islamic State.

The government forces are gearing up for a long-awaited offensive on Mosul, Islamic State’s stronghold in northern Iraq.

The al-Qaeda splinter group seized Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, in mid-2014 in a blitz attack.

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