BAGHDAD (REUTERS) - At least 45 people were killed in bombings in Baghdad and its rural outskirts on Saturday as the government continued to defend the capital against militants who four months ago seized major cities in northern Iraq.
Islamic State (IS) fighters, who took control of large sections of Iraq this year, regularly target Shi’ite districts in Baghdad and are penetrating surrounding farmland where Iraqi security forces and Shi’ite militias try to push them back.
In west Baghdad, 34 people were killed by three car bombs in Shi’ite neighbourhoods on Saturday evening, police and medical officials said.
A suicide bomber blew up his vehicle up at a traffic roundabout in Kadhimiya, killing 11 people, three of them police officers, officials said. Another 27 were wounded.
In the Shaoula neighbourhood, two bombs were detonated on the same street just 30 minutes apart.
In the first attack, a bomb in a parked car exploded outside an ice cream shop, killing eight and wounding 18 people. In the second blast, 600 metres down the same shop-lined street, a militant detonated his car, killing 15 people and wounding 44 others, police and medical officials said.
After seizing the western city of Fallujah and large sections of its sister city Ramadi at the beginning of the year, IS fighters swept across northern Iraq in June.
In farmland north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt in a market, killing 11 people and wounding 21 others, medical and police officials said.
The attack took place about 28km north of the capital, between the towns of Tarmiyah and Mishahda. The area has long been a hotbed of militant activities.
Four Iraqi soldiers who were wounded by IS fighters died in a friendly-fire incident in the town of Udaim, 90km north-east of Baghdad.
The soldiers were being taken to hospital when Shi’ite militia volunteers who mistook them for insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade at their vehicle, police and medical officials said.