Attacks in and near Baghdad kill 15 people as Iraq battles Islamic State militants

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BAGHDAD — A series of attacks in and near Baghdad on Wednesday, including one involving a suicide bomber driving a tanker truck, killed at least 15 people, Iraqi officials said.

In the tanker bombing, the suicide attacker targeted a security checkpoint in the village of Mikeshifa near the city of Samarra, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad.

Nine Iraqi soldiers and Shiite militiamen aligned with government forces in the battle against the Islamic State group were killed in that attack, police officials said. The explosion also wounded at least 22 people.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing but Samarra and its surrounding areas have been under constant attacks by the Islamic State group, which captured large swaths of western and northern Iraq in a summer blitz. The militant group's onslaught has become Iraq's worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Also Wednesday, a bomb struck near an outdoor market in the town of Madain, just south of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding five. And a bomb explosion in a commercial street in southern Baghdad killed two people and wounded seven.

Later in the day, a roadside bomb hit an army patrol in Baghdad's western suburb of Abu Ghraib, killing one soldier and wounding six.

Medics in nearby hospitals confirmed the casualties from the attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to media.

The attacks came as visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel offered assurances that Washington is committed to helping Iraq regain the territory it lost to the Islamic State group, and emphasized the importance of building a durable international coalition to combat the extremists.

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