BEIRUT

Middle East

Baghdad blast kills at least nine: officials

Iraqi soldiers stand in front of volunteers to fight along side the Iraqi security forces against Jihadist militants aboard military trucks on June 15, 2014 at a recruitment center in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

BAGHDAD: A bombing in central Baghdad killed at least nine people and wounded 23 Sunday, security and medical officials said.

An Iraqi interior ministry official said the attack was a roadside bomb, while a police colonel said that initial blast was followed by a suicide bombing.

Medical staff waited near stretchers on the sidewalk in front of one hospital in central Baghdad, on which casualties from the blast were placed and wheeled inside, an AFP journalist said.

The street was closed to all traffic but ambulances.

The attack comes as security forces battle to push back a major offensive launched by militants, spearheaded by jihadists but also involving supporters of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, which overran all of one province and chunks of three others.

The major unrest in other areas of the country has seen a drop in the frequent attacks that usually hit the capital, probably because militants are occupied elsewhere.

Security forces performed poorly when faced with the militant offensive, in some cases abandoning vehicles and positions and shedding uniforms to flee.

But they appear to be recovering from the initial shock of the onslaught, and have retaken some areas north of the capital.

 

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