ISIL fighters in Iraq launched a series of suicide bomb attacks in the city of Fallujah and an oasis town south of Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 14 people and wounding dozens.
The attacks came as Iraqi forces and their allies continue fighting ISIL in the northern city of Mosul, the armed group’s last major population centre in the country.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has carried out several attacks in other areas of Iraq since the operation to retake Mosul was launched a month ago, in an apparent bid to draw attention and possibly troops away from the battle for the city.
In Fallujah, at least eight people were killed and nearly 20 wounded in two separate car bomb blasts that hit police checkpoints, police sources told Reuters news agency.
The attacks were the first since Iraqi government forces took back the city from ISIL, also known as ISIS, in June.
“These two explosions are the first … in Fallujah since its liberation,” said Raja Barakat, a member of the provincial council security committee in Anbar province, where Fallujah is located.
Earlier on Monday, a group of ISIL attackers armed with suicide vests and light weapons killed at least eight people in Ain al-Tamer, 50km from a Shia shrine in the city of Karbala, before blowing themselves, according to local officials.
The attack involved six suicide bombers who were detected by security forces before a major gathering in the area that is expected to draw tens of thousands of pilgrims.
Masum al-Tamimi, a member of the Karbala provincial council, said the attackers tried to infiltrate the town in the early hours before withdrawing to the al-Jihad area after clashing with security forces, where they detonated their explosives. He put the death toll at eight.