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Oct 31, 8:18 AM EDT

Bombings at markets near Baghdad kill at least 15 people, Iraqi officials say


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BAGHDAD (AP) -- A series of bomb attacks struck marketplaces near Baghdad on Friday, killing at least 15 people, Iraqi officials said as security forces recaptured parts of a strategic Sunni oil town north of the capital from Islamic State militants.

Iraq is embroiled in its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops in the wake of a blitz this year by the Sunni militant Islamic State group, which has seized a third of the country's territory.

After heavy fighting overnight, Iraqi security forces backed by Shiite volunteers managed to push into the strategic oil town of Beiji on Friday, taking control of some of the town's southern districts, according to officials.

The town had fallen into the hands of the Islamic State group in early June but Iraqi forces managed to keep the IS group from taking over the Beiji refinery, Iraq's largest.

A media official in the Salahuddin provincial government said Iraqi troops seized the mayor's office and the police station in Beiji and that clashes were continuing in the town, which is about 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, a bomb went off around noon at a sheep market in Baghdad's western suburb of Suweib, killing five people and wounding 13, police officials said. Another bomb struck a commercial street in the nearby Radhawniyah, another western Baghdad suburb, killing two people and wounding nine.

Earlier in the day, a bomb blast near an outdoor market in the town of Madain, just south of Baghdad, killed four people and wounded 11.

And in Youssifiyah, 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Baghdad, police said an explosion at an outdoor market killed four people and wounded 10. Iraqis usually shop at marketplaces on Fridays, the first day of the weekend in most of the Muslim world, when traffic is less heavy.

Medical officials confirmed the casualties from all the attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

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