Sep 18, 3:49 PM EDT

Series of attacks kills at least 36 in Iraq


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BAGHDAD (AP) -- A series of bomb and mortar shell attacks in and around Baghdad killed at least 36 people, Iraqi officials said Thursday, in an assault that underscored the threat posed to the Iraqi capital by marauding Islamic militants that have seized large parts of country.

At least 15 people alone were killed in an apparently coordinated assault the northern Shiite district of Khazimiyah, according to police. A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a security checkpoint there late in the evening. Minutes later, three mortar shells landed in different parts of the district, hitting houses and a bus station.

Police said 31 were wounded in the attacks on Khazimiyah, which is a major pilgrimage site that contains the shrine of two revered Shiite Imams.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for those attacks or a series of other explosions that rattled the capital area, but car bombs and attacks against Shiite civilians are common tactics used by Islamic State militants.

The extremist group, which considers Shiites heretics, has captured large chunks of territory in western and northern Iraq, plunging the country into its worst crisis since U.S. troops left at the end of 2011. U.S. warplanes have been carrying out airstrikes against the group as Iraqi and Kurdish security forces work to retake territory it has seized.

Earlier in the day, a bomb blast struck a shopping street in the Toubachi neighborhood in northwest Baghdad, where a bomb blast killed four people and wounded 10, police said. Another blast struck after dark, killing another six and wounding 15.

Elsewhere in the capital, a bombing near a car repair shop downtown killed three and wounded eight, while an explosion in a wholesale produce market killed three more people and wounded 11, police officials said. A roadside bomb also struck an army patrol, killing two soldiers and wounding four.

In the city's southern suburbs, police said mortar shells landed on houses, killing three people, according to police.

Medical officials confirmed the causalities. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

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