At least 21 dead in Iraq checkpoint car bombing

Iraqi soldiers chant slogans during an intensive security deployment in Samarra, north of Baghdad
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Iraqi soldiers chant slogans during an intensive security deployment in Samarra, north of Baghdad July 4, 2014. Using its own version of "soft" and "hard" power, the Islamic State is crushing resistance across northern Iraq so successfully that its promise to march on Baghdad may no longer be unrealistic bravado. While conventional states try to win hearts and minds abroad before necessarily resorting to military force, the jihadist group is also achieving its aims by psychological means - backed up by a reputation for extreme violence. To match Insight IRAQ-SECURITY/ISLAMICSTATE Picture taken July 4 2014. REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ - Tags - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS MILITARY)

BAGHDAD (AP) — A suicide driver rammed his explosive-laden car into a police checkpoint in the Iraqi capital killing 21 people, including more than a dozen civilians en route to a Shiite shrine in the final days of the Islamic holy month.

At least 13 people killed in the attack were civilians, according to police and hospital officials. At least 35 people were wounded — more than half of them civilians.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak with the media.

The attack occurred at the entrance to Baghdad's Khazimiyah district, where many cars were en route to the Imam Al-Khadim Shrine in the lead up to the Eid feast commemorating the end of Ramadan.

Baghdad has been on edge since the Sunni militant blitz led by the Islamic State extremist group seized the northern city of Mosul, vowing to push south to the capital. The city has seen several small scale bombings in recent weeks, but it has so far been free of the large, coordinated attacks seen earlier this year ahead of April elections.

Earlier on Tuesday, two mortar rounds landed near a police station in Baghdad's Sabi al-Bore neighborhood, killing three policemen and wounding four others, a police officer said.


Associated Press writer Sinan Salaheedin contributed from Baghdad.