At least 12 as suicide bomber targets outdoor market

At least 12 as suicide bomber targets outdoor market

At least 12 people have died after a suicide car bomb ripped through an outdoor market in a Shia-dominated district of Baghdad.

An explosives-laden pickup truck exploded during morning rush hour at a fruit and vegetable market in the north-eastern al-Rashidiya district, killing a dozen people and leaving another 37 wounded.

The incident comes as government forces are deployed across much of the Iraqi capital in preparation for a major military parade later this week.

It also follows two large-scale attacks claimed by the so-called 'Islamic State' (IS) group which killed more than 300 people last week.

Yesterday, visiting US defence secretary Ash Carter announced that Washington will send 560 more troops to Iraq to help battle IS.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bore the hallmarks of IS.

The Sunni extremists, who consider Shias to be heretics, swept across northern and western Iraq in the summer of 2014, capturing large chunks of territory and plunging the country into its worst crisis since US troops left at the end of 2011.

Last week, IS killed more than 300 people in two attacks.

A massive truck bombing struck a bustling commercial area in a Baghdad's predominantly Shia neighbourhood of Karada, killing 292 people - one of the deadliest attacks since the 2003 US-led invasion.

And last Thursday, another attack at a Shia shrine north of Baghdad killed 37 people.

Iraqi government forces have deployed in most of Baghdad, closing off main roads and snarling traffic.

The interior ministry spokesman, Brig Gen Saad Maan, said the troops were "practising for a planned military parade for a specific occasion".

The country is due to mark the anniversary of its 1958 overthrow of a Hashemite monarchy and the declaration of Iraq as a republic.

The recent surge in IS attacks beyond the front lines demonstrated the group's ability to launch lethal attacks despite recent territorial losses in both Iraq and Syria, where it has established a self-proclaimed caliphate.

IS militants still hold pockets of territory in northern and western Iraq.

According to Mr Carter, the new American forces should arrive in the coming weeks.

They will primarily be used to transform an air base retaken this month from IS into a staging hub for the long-awaited battle to recapture Mosul - Iraq's second-largest city - from the extremists.

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