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Iraqi PM vows to expel IS after deadly shopping centre attack

Published 12/01/2016

People gather at the scene in the aftermath of a car bomb explosion in commercial area of New Baghdad (AP)
People gather at the scene in the aftermath of a car bomb explosion in commercial area of New Baghdad (AP)

Iraq's prime minister has vowed to continue the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants, a day after the group launched a suicide attack on a shopping centre, killing 18 people.

Touring the bombed shopping centre in eastern New Baghdad on Tuesday, Haider al-Abadi described the attack as a "desperate attempt" by militants after they lost control of the key western city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province.

Mr Abadi said that Iraq's government will "spare no efforts" in expelling IS forces from the country.

Gunmen stormed the shopping centre on Monday after setting off a car bomb and launching a suicide attack at the entrance.

Iraqi forces later surrounded the building, landing troops on the roof before clashing with attackers inside, killing two gunmen and arresting four.

About 50 people were wounded in the attack.

Shortly afterwards, an apparent IS statement posted online said militants targeted an area where many Shiite Muslims are known to gather and warned of "worse" to come.

Later, a suicide attack targeted a cafe in the town of Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad in Diyala province, killing at least 24 people and wounding 52, and in a crowded area in south-east Baghdad, a car bomb explosion killed at least five people and wounded 12 others.

Iraq is going through its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of US troops. In summer 2014, IS blitzed across large areas of the country's north and west, capturing Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul and the majority of the western Anbar province.

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

Baghdad has been almost quiet over the past few months, except for a few small attacks with bombs and assaults targeting Iraqi forces and government officials.

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