18 dead after gunmen attack Baghdad shopping centre

18 dead after gunmen attack Baghdad shopping centre

At least 18 people are dead after gunmen stormed into a shopping centre in Baghdad after setting off a car bomb and launching a suicide attack at its entrance.

Around 50 people have been injured in the attack on the shopping centre in the city’s mainly Shiite east, Iraqi officials said.

Officials initially described the attack as a hostage situation, estimating that 50 people were trapped inside the complex.

But Iraqi forces soon surrounded the building and landed troops on the roof.

They clashed with the attackers inside, killing two of them, arresting another four and declaring the stand-off over.

At least four police were among those killed in the assault, which lasted around an hour and a half.

Following the attack, authorities shut down the city’s highly fortified Green Zone, home to a number of foreign embassies and most of the country’s political elite.

A number of major roads, shopping malls and bridges around the Iraqi capital were also closed for fear of follow-up attacks.

Also on Monday evening, a car bomb in south-east Baghdad in a crowded market area killed five and wounded 12.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for either attack, but the Islamic State group often targets the country’s Shiite majority with bombs in crowded marketplaces that are designed to kill large numbers of civilians.

The Islamic State group controls much of northern and western Iraq, but suffered a major defeat last month when Iraqi forces drove the extremists out of the western city of Ramadi, capital of the sprawling Anbar province.

The IS rampage across Iraq in the summer of 2014 was halted several miles away from Baghdad, but the extremist group has claimed a number of attacks in the heavily guarded capital since then.

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