At least 51 killed in attacks in Iraqi capital, eastern town

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BAGHDAD, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Gunmen detonated suicide vests inside a shopping complex in Baghdad on Monday and a car bomb exploded nearby in an attack claimed by Islamic State that killed at least 18 people and wounded 40 others.

Two bombs later went off in the eastern town of Muqdadiya, killing at least 23 people and wounding another 51, security and medical sources said. Another blast in a southeastern Baghdad suburb killed seven more.

See recent images of Iraqi forces moving to retake Ramadi:

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Iraqi forces move to retake Ramadi
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At least 51 killed in attacks in Iraqi capital, eastern town
TOPSHOT - Members of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service secure on December 27, 2015 the Hoz neighbourhood in central Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, about 110 kilometers west of Baghdad, during military operations conducted by Iraqi pro-government forces against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group. Jihadist fighters abandoned their last stronghold in Ramadi today, bringing Iraqi federal forces within sight of their biggest victory since last year's massive offensive by the Islamic State group. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Members of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service search a heavily damaged building on December 27, 2015 in the Hoz neighbourhood in central Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, about 110 kilometers west of Baghdad, during military operations conducted by Iraqi pro-government forces against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group. Jihadist fighters abandoned their last stronghold in Ramadi today, bringing Iraqi federal forces within sight of their biggest victory since last year's massive offensive by the Islamic State group. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism search a heavily damaged building on December 27, 2015 in the Hoz neighbourhood in central Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, about 110 kilometers west of Baghdad, during military operations conducted by Iraqi pro-government forces against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group. Jihadist fighters abandoned their last stronghold in Ramadi today, bringing Iraqi federal forces within sight of their biggest victory since last year's massive offensive by the Islamic State group. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service secure on December 27, 2015 the Hoz neighbourhood in central Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, about 110 kilometers west of Baghdad, during military operations conducted by Iraqi pro-government forces against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group. Jihadist fighters abandoned their last stronghold in Ramadi today, bringing Iraqi federal forces within sight of their biggest victory since last year's massive offensive by the Islamic State group. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service secure on December 27, 2015 the Hoz neighbourhood in central Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, about 110 kilometers west of Baghdad, during military operations conducted by Iraqi pro-government forces against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group. Jihadist fighters abandoned their last stronghold in Ramadi today, bringing Iraqi federal forces within sight of their biggest victory since last year's massive offensive by the Islamic State group. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi security forces enter heavy damaged downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015. Islamic State fighters are putting up a tough fight in the militant-held city of Ramadi, slowing down the advance of Iraqi forces, Gen. Ismail al-Mahlawi, head of the Anbar military operations, said Sunday. (AP Photo/Rwa Faisal)
Iraqi rapid response forces inspect military equipment distributed by the Anbar police directorate in the southern Ramadi neighbourhood of Tash, west of the capital Baghdad, during military operations conducted by Iraqi pro-government forces against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, on December 27, 2015. Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service (CTS) and the army have advanced steadily through the devastated capital of Anbar province clearing the Hoz neighbourhood in central Ramadi completely, according to spokesman Sabah al-Numan. AFP PHOTO / STR / AFP / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi pro-government forces member watches smoke billowing in Ramadi's Hoz neighbourhood, about 110 kilometers west of the capital Baghdad, during military operations conducted by Iraqi forces against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, on December 27, 2015. Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service (CTS) and the army have advanced steadily through the devastated capital of Anbar province clearing the Hoz neighbourhood in central Ramadi completely, according to spokesman Sabah al-Numan. AFP PHOTO / STR / AFP / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
RAMADI, IRAQ - DECEMBER 26: Iraqi forces are seen as the operation aiming to re-seize the Ramadi from Daesh terrorist continue in el-Hoz neighborhood of Ramadi, Iraq on December 26, 2015. (Photo by Ali Mohammed/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
RAMADI, IRAQ - DECEMBER 26: Iraqi forces are seen as the operation aiming to re-seize the Ramadi from Daesh terrorist continue in el-Hoz neighborhood of Ramadi, Iraq on December 26, 2015. (Photo by Ali Mohammed/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
RAMADI, IRAQ - DECEMBER 26: Iraqi forces are seen as the operation aiming to re-seize the Ramadi from Daesh terrorist continue in el-Hoz neighborhood of Ramadi, Iraq on December 26, 2015. (Photo by Ali Mohammed/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
RAMADI, IRAQ - DECEMBER 26: Iraqi forces are seen as the operation aiming to re-seize the Ramadi from Daesh terrorist continue in el-Hoz neighborhood of Ramadi, Iraq on December 26, 2015. (Photo by Ali Mohammed/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Smoke rises after Iraqi Security forces blew up a car bomb belonging to a suicide bomber with Islamic State group at Huz neighborhood in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. Iraqi forces entered the Huz at dawn, an area housing a government compound in the center of Ramadi, part of a major offensive aimed at dislodging the Islamic State terrorist militia from the western city, an Iraqi official said. (AP Photo/Osama Sami)
Iraqi Security forces enter the heavy damaged Huz neighborhood in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. Iraqi forces entered the Huz at dawn, an area housing a government compound in the center of Ramadi, part of a major offensive aimed at dislodging the Islamic State terrorist militia from the western city, an Iraqi official said. (AP Photo/Osama Sami)
Smoke rises from Islamic State positions following a U.S.-led coalition airstrike at Huz neighborhood in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. Iraqi forces entered the Huz at dawn, an area housing a government compound in the center of Ramadi, part of a major offensive aimed at dislodging the Islamic State terrorist militia from the western city, an Iraqi official said. (AP Photo/Osama Sami)
RAMADI, IRAQ - DECEMBER 26: Iraqi forces are seen as the operation aiming to re-seize the Ramadi from Daesh terrorist continue in el-Hoz neighborhood of Ramadi, Iraq on December 26, 2015. (Photo by Ali Mohammed/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
In this Friday, Dec. 25, 2015 photo, smoke rises from Islamic State positions following a U.S.-led coalition airstrike as Iraqi Security forces advance their position in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. Iraqi forces entered the Huz at dawn, an area housing a government compound in the center of Ramadi, part of a major offensive aimed at dislodging the Islamic State terrorist militia from the western city, an Iraqi official said. (AP Photo)
In this Friday, Dec. 25, 2015 photo, a bridge destroyed by the Islamic State group to block Iraqi security forces from moving forward in Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. Iraqi forces entered the Huz at dawn, an area housing a government compound in the centre of Ramadi, part of a major offensive aimed at dislodging the Islamic State terrorist militia from the western city, an Iraqi official said. (AP Photo)
In this Friday, Dec. 25, 2015 photo, smoke rises from Islamic State positions following a U.S.-led coalition airstrike as Iraqi Security forces advance their position in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. Iraqi forces entered the Huz at dawn, an area housing a government compound in the center of Ramadi, part of a major offensive aimed at dislodging the Islamic State terrorist militia from the western city, an Iraqi official said. (AP Photo)
In this Friday, Dec. 25, 2015 photo, smoke rises from Islamic State positions following a U.S.-led coalition airstrike as Iraqi Security forces advance their position in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. Iraqi forces entered the Huz at dawn, an area housing a government compound in the center of Ramadi, part of a major offensive aimed at dislodging the Islamic State terrorist militia from the western city, an Iraqi official said. (AP Photo)
This photo taken through an armoured vehicle windshield, smoke rises from Islamic State positions following a U.S.-led coalition airstrike as Iraqi Security forces advance their position in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 25, 2015. Iraqi forces have retaken large parts of Ramadi from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, but officials expect the city's "liberation" to take longer than initially expected. (AP Photo)
In this Friday, Dec. 25, 2015 photo, a bulldozer removes fortifications set by the Islamic State group as Iraqi Security forces advance their position in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. Iraqi forces entered the Huz at dawn, an area housing a government compound in the center of Ramadi, part of a major offensive aimed at dislodging the Islamic State terrorist militia from the western city, an Iraqi official said. (AP Photo)
In this Friday, Dec. 25, 2015 photo, smoke rises from Islamic State positions following a U.S.-led coalition airstrike as Iraqi Security forces advance their position in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad. Iraqi forces entered the Huz at dawn, an area housing a government compound in the center of Ramadi, part of a major offensive aimed at dislodging the Islamic State terrorist militia from the western city, an Iraqi official said. (AP Photo)
Iraqi Security forces supported by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, advance their position in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 25, 2015. Iraqi forces have retaken large parts of Ramadi from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, but officials expect the city's "liberation" to take longer than initially expected. (AP Photo)
Smoke rises from Islamic State positions following a U.S.-led coalition airstrike as Iraqi Security forces advance their position in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 25, 2015. Iraqi forces have retaken large parts of Ramadi from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, but officials expect the city's "liberation" to take longer than initially expected. (AP Photo)
Smoke rises from Islamic State positions following a U.S.-led coalition airstrike as Iraqi Security forces advance their position in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015. The advance of government forces in the Islamic State-held city of Ramadi is being hampered by suicide bombers, snipers and booby traps, Gen. Ismail al-Mahlawi, the head of Iraqi military operations in Anbar said. (AP Photo)
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Islamic State militants controlling swathes of Iraq's north and west claimed responsibility for the attacks in Muqdadiya and at the Baghdad mall, which it said had targeted a gathering of "rejectionists," its derogatory term for Shi'ite Muslims.

The Iraqi government last month claimed victory against the hardline Sunni militants in the western city of Ramadi, and has slowly pushed them back in other areas.

A security official in Anbar province on Monday said ground advances backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes killed about two dozen insurgents and pushed others out of areas near the government-held city of Haditha in Iraq's northwest.

Monday's bombings left the biggest death toll in three months. Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan blamed "this terrorist group after they suffered heavy losses by the security forces," without naming Islamic State.

Seven people, including two policemen, were killed in the car bomb blast near the Jawaher mall in the predominantly Shi'ite district of Baghdad Jadida, police and medical sources said.

Five more people were shot dead by the gunmen storming the mall, and six others were killed when those same assailants detonated their explosive vests, the sources said.

"People started running into the shops to hide, but (the militants) followed them in and opened fire without mercy," said Hani Fikrat Abdel Hussein, a shop-owner standing amid shattered glass and rubble at the site of the blasts.

Police regained control of the shopping complex, in the east of the city, and a senior security official told state television there were no hostages, rejecting reports that people had been held.

"The security forces are at the scene and managed to recover the wounded. The situation is under control," Maan added.

CASINO BOMBING

As well as the violence meted out by Islamic State, Iraq is also gripped by a sectarian conflict mostly between Shi'ites and Sunnis that has been exacerbated by the rise of the militant group.

At least seven people were killed when a suicide bomber driving a car attacked a commercial street in a southeastern Baghdad suburb on Monday, police and medical sources said.

The blast in the Sunni district of Nahrawan left more than 15 people wounded, the sources added.

Earlier in the day, three people were killed and eight others wounded when a car bomb claimed by Islamic State went off near a restaurant in Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) northeast of Baghdad, security and medical sources said.

Two bombs later exploded in an area frequented by Shi'ite militia fighters in the town of Muqdadiya, another 15 km (10 miles) further northeast, security sources said.

At least 23 people were killed and 51 wounded in those blasts. A bomber detonated his suicide vest inside a casino in the town. A car bomb parked outside then went off as medics and civilians gathered at the site of the first blast.

Security officials said they had imposed a curfew for all of Diyala province, where Muqdadiya and Baquba are located.

Parliamentary speaker Salim al-Jabouri, who is from Muqdadiya, said he was in contact with security and political leaders there and warned violence there aimed to "undermine efforts for civil peace," state TV said in a news flash.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in the Baghdad suburb.



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