Scores of people have died in attacks across Baghdad, with one particular suicide bombing claiming 34 lives. It was the deadliest to hit the Iraqi capital in months.
A suicide bomber targeted a funeral tent where mourners had gathered in the Shiite-majority Shaab area of north Baghdad. In addition to at least victims, the attack also wounded at least 36 people, according to officials. Some sources said that as many as 60 were wounded, some critically. A witness said that the bomber had entered the funeral tent and blew himself up as lunch was being served.
The so-called "Islamic State" group (IS) claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing in a statement by its Aamaq news agency. According to the Sunni extremist group, Shiites are to be viewed as heretics and therefore a prime target for attacks.
The bombing is the deadliest to hit the Iraqi capital in months. A suicide bombing in Baghdad in July had cost more than 300 lives in a crowded shopping area.
In other attacks, militants targeted two areas north of Baghdad, killing a further 12 people, according to police sources.
In Malha, located east of the city of Tikrit, suicide bombers attacked a federal police position, killing eight and wounding 11 there. In the Ishaqi area, located halfway between Baghdad and Tikrit, two militants shot dead the wife and three children of the commander of local tribal forces.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the two attacks, however, all recent attacks in the country were indeed all claimed by IS.
The rise in violence comes as Iraqi forces prepare for an operation to retake the city of Mosul, the last IS-held city in Iraq.
"All the troops are ready, now they are just waiting for the order from the prime minister," said Major General Najim al-Jobori, the head of Nineveh operations command and one of the top Iraqi generals overseeing the Mosul operation.
"The head of the snake is Mosul," he said, referring to IS.
The Mosul operation is expected to be the most complex yet for Iraq's military. Some 30,000 troops are expected to take part in the battle, which has been prepared with the assistance of US troops. The battle is expected to create a humanitarian crisis in Mosul, with the United Nations warning that up to one million people may be displaced by the fighting.
ss/bw (AP, AFP)