Aug 26, 10:30 AM EDT

Car bombing kills at least 11 people in Baghdad


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BAGHDAD (AP) -- A car bomb exploded on Tuesday in a busy Shiite area in eastern Baghdad, killing at least 11 people, officials said, the latest in a series of attacks to shake the Iraqi capital as the Shiite-led government struggles to dislodge Sunni militants from areas in the country's west and north.

The explosives-laden car went off during the morning rush hour in the main commercial area of the New Baghdad district. It was parked close to outdoor pet and vegetable markets and a traffic police office, a police officer said.

The attack also wounded 31, he added. A medical official confirmed the casualty figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The bombing came a day after a wave of attacks targeted Shiite areas in several cities, including Baghdad, killing at least 58 people. Among them were 15 worshippers who died in a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in the same New Baghdad neighborhood where Tuesday's car bomb struck.

In online statements, the Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for Monday's mosque attack and another in the Shiite-majority district of Utaifiya in Baghdad, where two car bombs tore through a busy commercial area near a crowded restaurant and killed at least 15 people.

And in two separate tweets, it took credit for car bombings in the revered Shiite city of Karbala and the nearby Hillah city south of Baghdad that together killed at least 23 people on the same day.

The authenticity of the statements and tweets could not be independently verified, but they were posted on a militant website and Twitter accounts frequently used by the group.

No one has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attacks, which bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida-inspired militants.

In Iraq's self-ruled northern Kurdish region, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said the militants threaten the whole region, not only Iraq.

"The danger of Islamic State militants threatens the Kurdish people of Iraq and Iraqi Shiites as much as it threatens Iraqi Sunnis, other religious minorities in Iraq and all the people in this region," said Zarif, who started an official visit to Iraq on Sunday, at a joint press conference with Kurdish regional President Masoud Barzani.

Iraq has faced a growing Sunni insurgency since early this year as the Islamic State, an al-Qaida-breakaway group, and allied militants have taken over areas in the country's west and north. The crisis is Iraq's worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The Islamic State has captured large swaths of territory in western and northern Iraq in a lightning offensive earlier this year.

The blitz stunned Iraqi security forces and the military, which melted away and withdrew as the Islamic State in June overran the northern cities of Mosul and Tikrit, as well as small towns and villages on their path.

Since then, tens of thousands of Iraqis, including members of Christian and other minorities, have been forced from their homes and displaced, while the Islamic State has carved out a self-styled caliphate in the large area straddling the Iraqi-Syrian border that it now controls.

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Associated Press writer Murtada Faraj contributed to this report from Baghdad and Maamoun Youssef in Cairo, Egypt.

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