Middle East

Iraq bomb attacks leave at least 34 dead

Iraqi government-led security forces in Jurf-al-Sakhar Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Humvee used in one of the attacks is believed to have been captured from government forces

At least 34 people have been killed and dozens injured following two bomb blasts in and around Iraq's capital Baghdad.

The first attack came when a suicide bomber drove a Humvee at a checkpoint south of Baghdad killing at least 24, Iraqi officials said.

The second attack, a car bombing inside the capital, killed at least 10 people, officials say.

Hundreds have been killed in bomb attacks across Iraq in recent months.

The checkpoint where the first explosion occurred was near the town of Jurf al-Sakhar, around 50 km (30 miles) south of Baghdad.

The blast targeted Iraqi security forces and Shia militiamen who were manning the checkpoint. The Humvee used in the attack is likely to have been captured from government forces, reports say.

The attackers are believed to be militants from Islamic State (IS), who lost control of the town to government-led forces over the weekend.

It is not yet clear who is responsible for the second bombing, which took place near shops and restaurants in the Karrada district of downtown Baghdad. Dozens were also injured in the blast.

Battle for town

Jurf-al-Sakhar, where the first attack took place, was seized by IS during a lightning offensive this summer, in which the group gained control over a broad swath of territory spanning parts of Syria and northern Iraq.

The town is seen as a strategic buffer between the militants' strongholds in Sunni Arab-dominated Anbar province and Shia-dominated southern Iraq. It also lies along a major pilgrimage route used by Shia Muslims.

Government forces and allied militia have spent months trying to wrest back control of the town.

The US has been carrying out air strikes since August to help Iraqi and Kurdish security forces drive back IS.

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