BAGHDAD • Around 55 people were killed in Iraq yesterday in attacks that targeted a Shi'ite Muslim gathering, a police checkpoint and the family of a Sunni paramilitary leader opposed to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), said security and medical sources.
The escalation comes as Iraqi forces are getting ready to launch an offensive to take back Mosul, the last Iraqi city still under the control of ISIS, in northern Iraq.
But the recapture of Mosul is unlikely to mark the end of the war against ISIS, which still holds other territory in Iraq and is likely to turn increasingly to insurgent tactics, such as bombings and hit-and-run attacks, as it loses more ground.
The heaviest toll in yesterday's string of attacks was caused by a suicide bomber who detonated an explosive vest in the middle of a Shi'ite gathering in Baghdad, killing at least 41 people and wounding 33.
The explosion went off inside a tent filled with people taking part in Shi'ite Ashura rituals, which mourn the killing of Prophet Mohammad's grandson Hussein in the 7th century.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement.
Some people were also in the tent to mourn the death of a local resident, the authorities said. The tent was set up in a crowded market in the city's northern al-Shaab district.
A witness at the scene said the bomber had targeted the funeral tent, entering and blowing himself up as lunch was being served.
"I saw with my eyes 20 martyrs on the ground," the witness said.
Gunmen believed to belong to ISIS, a Sunni group, earlier in the day staged two attacks north of Baghdad - one targeting a police checkpoint and the other the house of a Sunni militia chief who supports the government, police sources said.
Eight policemen were killed and 11 others wounded in the first attack, which took place in Mutaibija, south of the city of Tikrit, while the militants had three dead in their ranks.
In the second, the wife and three children of Mr Numan al-Mujamaie, the leader of the Ishaqi Mobilization militia, were killed when gunmen stormed his house in the town of Ishaq in his absence.
The assailants fled, chased by security forces, and later killed themselves by detonating explosive belts, police said.
ISIS has intensified bomb attacks in government-held areas this year as it loses territory to United States-backed Iraqi government forces and Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia groups.
The terrorist group claimed a truck bombing in July that killed at least 324 people in the Karrada shopping area of Baghdad - the deadliest single attack in Iraq since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE