Suicide bomber hits Shiite mosque in Baghdad, killing at least 17 worshippers, officials say


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In this Friday, Oct. 17, 2014 photo, Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters gather to defend the city of Haditha, 240 kilometers (150 miles) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq is facing its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops, with the Islamic State extremist group in control of about a third of the country. (AP Photo)

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber struck a Shiite mosque in central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 17 worshippers and wounding dozens, Iraqi officials said.

The attack comes a day after a suicide bombing targeted another Shiite mosque in Baghdad, this one in the western Harithiya neighborhood, killing 28 people.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the two attacks but they bore the hallmarks of the al-Qaida-breakaway Sunni militant group known as the Islamic State, which has recently claimed several large bombings in the Iraqi capital, particularly in Shiite areas.

The IS says it has a foothold inside Baghdad but Iraqi officials deny this, though they acknowledged the militants likely have sleeper cells in the city.

In Monday's attack, the bomber detonated his explosives-laden vest as people were leaving the al-Khairat mosque in Baghdad's Sinak commercial area following noon prayers, a police officer said. At least 28 people were wounded in the explosion, he said.

A medical official confirmed the casualty figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to media.

This summer, the Islamic State group captured large chunks of territory in western and northern Iraq, plunging the country into its worst crisis since the U.S. troops left at the end of 2011.

Since August, U.S. warplanes have been carrying out airstrikes against the group as Iraqi and Kurdish security forces work to retake territory it has seized.

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