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Car bombs kill 23 in central Baghdad, hit Ramadan crowds

BAGHDAD: Two car bombs killed at least 20 people in Baghdad and wounded about 80 others early on Tuesday, security sources said, one targeting the late-night crowds typical of the holy month of Ramadan who shop and eat ahead of the next day’s fast.

Islamic State, the hardline group that controls parts of Iraq and Syria, claimed both attacks in statements on its Amaq news agency.

A car packed with explosives blew up near a popular ice cream shop in the commercial Karrada district, killing at least 13 people and wounding 40 just after midnight.

A few hours later, a second bombing killed ten people and wounded 44 more near a government office in Karkh district.

During Ramadan many Muslims stay up until the early hours, going out to spend time with their families, shop and eat before dawn breaks and the next day’s fast begins.

Karrada was hit by a massive truck bomb in July 2016 that killed at least 324 people, the deadliest attack in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003.

Islamic State has been retreating in Iraq since the end of 2015 in the face of U.S.-backed government forces and Iranian-backed paramilitary groups.

It is now besieged in an enclave in the northern city of Mosul, which it has used as its de facto capital in Iraq. Islamic State declared from Mosul a “caliphate” over parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014.

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