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Mar 23, 8:31 AM EDT

Iraqi officials: Separate Baghdad bombings kill 19 people, wound 36



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BAGHDAD (AP) -- Multiple bombings in the Iraqi capital killed at least 19 people and wounded 36, as Iraqi forces continued preparing for a large-scale operation to recapture the city of Tikrit from the Islamic State group.

The deadliest bombing struck a busy commercial street Monday in the Habibiya section of Baghdad's Sadr City, killing at least nine people and wounding 22, officials said.

Another bombing, at a vegetable market in the Tarabya section of Baghdad, killed at least six people and wounded 14.

Earlier Monday in northwestern Baghdad, police say a bomb detonated near an intelligence branch of the Interior Ministry, killing four people - a couple and their two children.

Hospital officials corroborated the casualty figures. All officials spoke anonymously as they are not authorized to brief the media.

Baghdad has enjoyed relative calm in recent months as compared to the sectarian bloodshed that gripped the city in 2006 and 2007. While no one has claimed responsibility for Monday's attack, the Islamic State group has claimed a number of recent bombings in the past.

Iraqi security forces remain on the outskirts of the northern city of Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein, awaiting a final push into the city. Military officials said they have opted not to rush the final assault in an effort to minimize casualties and to ensure that the city's infrastructure is safeguarded.

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Associated Press writer Murtada Faraj in Baghdad contributed to this report.

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