An explosion claimed as a suicide bombing by the Islamic State killed three people today in the heart of Baghdad and another suicide bomber killed six people just outside the Iraqi capital, police and medics said. Three people were killed in central Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded near the Shi’ite mosque of Abdullah bin Rawah in the main wholesale market of Shorja, the police and medical sources said. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blast, saying on an affiliated Twitter feed that a man it called Abu Bakr al-Australi (the Australian) had detonated explosives in a vest he was wearing near the mosque. The sources said the other suicide bomber detonated an explosive-rigged car at a checkpoint on the northern exit from Baghdad, killing six people and wounding 18, most of them policemen. The attacks in the capital occurred as the army and allied Shi’ite militia forces are trying to push back Sunni insurgents led by the al Qaeda offshoot Islamic State, who swept through northern Iraq last month to within 70 km (45 miles) of Baghdad. An army offensive to retake Tikrit today was repulsed by the insurgents, who forced troops to pull back south of the city on the banks of the Tigris. The fighting has exacerbated a political crisis in Baghdad, where Shi’ite caretaker Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is trying to form a government in the face of opposition from Sunni, Kurds and some Shi’ites, three months after Iraq held a parliamentary election. Iraq’s Shi’ite clergy as well as Western powers have pressed the politicians to overcome their deadlock and agree a new unity government to help tackle the insurgency and prevent Iraq from splitting down ethnic and sectarian lines. To the north of Baghdad, militants attacked the Turkuman town of Amirli overnight yesterday and today morning, striking from three directions. Nine insurgents and one soldier were killed in the fighting, said Amirli mayor Talib Mohammed.
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