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May 12, 4:36 PM EDT

Attacks in Iraqi capital kill at least 19 Shiite pilgrims



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BAGHDAD (AP) -- Attacks on Shiite pilgrims commemorating the death of revered 8th century Shiite Imam Moussa al-Kazim killed at least 19 people and wounded more than 50 across the Iraqi capital, police officials said.

The largest of the attacks happened in central Baghdad when a suicide bomber attacked pilgrims buying food and drinks on their way back from the al-Kazim's shrine located in the capital's Kazimiyah neighborhood. Officials said at least 10 people were killed in the attack and another 25 wounded. The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, in a statement distributed on associated Twitter accounts Tuesday, saying it sought to target fighters with the Popular Mobilization Units, a predominantly Shiite force currently battling the Sunni militants in Iraq.

In eastern Baghdad, another two pilgrims were killed and nine wounded when a roadside bomb exploded on Palestine Street. On the northeastern edge of the capital, in the town of Bab al-Sham, at least three mortars targeted Shiite pilgrims, killing four and wounding at least 12.

Also in Mashahidah, just north of Baghdad, at least three pilgrims were killed and eight wounded by an improvised explosive device.

Hospital officials confirmed the casualties. All officials spoke anonymously because they are not authorized to brief the media.

The Islamic State militant group has been behind attacks in several of the capital's predominantly Shiite neighborhoods. The Iraqi military, backed by U.S. airstrikes and fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, recently recaptured Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit from the militant group in a push to regain control of the Sunni heartland.

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Associated Press writer Murtada Faraj in Baghdad contributed to this report.

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