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May 19, 4:39 PM EDT

Iraqi officials: Car bombings in Baghdad kill 11 people



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Iraqi officials: Car bombings in Baghdad kill 11 people

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BAGHDAD (AP) -- Two car bombs in southwestern Baghdad killed 11 people, including four police officers, and wounded at least 20 late on Friday night, according to Iraqi police and hospital officials.

The first attack targeted a police checkpoint in the neighborhood and moments later, the second blast hit a nearby street crowded with civilians, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but it bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State group, which has claimed similar bombings in the past.

The attack comes as Iraqi forces, backed by the U.S.-led coalition, are slowly moving in on the last neighborhoods held by the Islamic State group in Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.

IS now only holds a handful of neighborhoods in Mosul, including the Old City where the most intense battles of the operation are expected to play out.

Coalition officials say they believe a few hundred IS fighters remain in Mosul, holding hundreds of thousands of civilians as human shields.

Iraqi commanders have said they hope to fully liberate the city before the holy month of Ramadan, which is to begin at the end of next week.

IS overran Mosul nearly three years ago in a blitz that brought nearly a third of Iraqi territory under the Sunni militant group's control. Since then a massive influx of weapons and training from Iran as well as a U.S.-led campaign of coalition airstrikes has clawed back more than half of the territory IS once held.

Iraqi and coalition officials have repeatedly warned that after Mosul, IS will likely return to its insurgent roots as it loses more territory in both Iraq and neighboring Syria.

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