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Gunmen storm mall in Baghdad after car bomb explodes

Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for a series of attacks across Iraq on Monday, including an assault on a mall that killed 18 and wounded 40, reported Reuters.

Gunmen stormed the Jawaher shopping complex in a predominately Shia suburb of Baghdad on Monday after a car bomb detonated outside, police and medical sources said. The attack ended after the assailants activated suicide vests.

Brig. Gen. Saad Maan, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told reporters the situation was under control and that wounded civilians were recovered without incident, and blamed a terrorist group for the attacks, without mentioning a name. Maan implied that the attacks were a response to “heavy losses” suffered at the hands of Iraqi security forces.

Contrary to initial reports, the attackers had not taken hostages.

The Islamic State group also claimed responsibility for bomb attacks in the northeastern towns of Muqdadiya and Buqaba, according to statements circulating online. The bombing outside a casino in Muqdadiya killed 23 and wounded at least 51, while the blast near a restaurant in Baquba killed three and wounded eight. It was unclear if all three attacks were coordinated.

Government officials have instituted a curfew in the province of Diyala, where Muqdadiya and Buqaba are located. Parliamentary speaker Salim al-Jabouri claimed the violence was an attempt to undermine civil peace efforts.

The statements released by Islamic State militants claimed the attacks were directed at “rejectionist heathens,” a disparaging reference to Shiites.

Another car bomb detonated in the predominately Sunni Nahrawan neighborhood of Baghdad that left more than 15 wounded, although it is uncertain if the Islamic State group was responsible.

All told, Monday’s death toll was the highest in Iraq in three months.