Suicide bombings kill at least 34 in Baghdad

The attack took place on the day the Iraqi government was to lift a nighttime curfew in the capital

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Three separate suicide bombings in Baghdad claimed the lives of at least 34 people and wounded more than 50 on Saturday, security and medical officials told Reuters news agency.

The first blast occurred in the Shiite neighborhood of New Baghdad and the second one targeted the bustling Sharqa market district.

In the first attack, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt inside a restaurant in the Shiite neighborhood of New Baghdad, leaving 22 dead.

In the second attack, two bombs ripped through the bustling Sharqa market district, killing 10 people.

In a third attack, , a bomb killed two and wounded another seven in the Shi'ite section of Abu Sheir in Baghdad's Dura neighborhood, police told Reuters.

Earlier police had put the number of dead at 23.

The interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan said he did not believe the blasts were linked to the decision to lift the curfew.

The Iraqi government announced on Thursday that the decade-old curfew in the capital would end on Saturday at midnight and that four neighborhoods would be “demilitarized.”

The moves are part of a campaign to normalize life in Iraq’s war-blighted capital and to persuade residents that Baghdad no longer faces a threat from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the militant group which seized large areas of northern and western Iraq last year.

Some form of curfew has been in place since the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003, hindering commercial and civilian movement. The midnight (2100 GMT) to 5 a.m. (0200 GMT) curfew has been in place for more than seven years.

[With Reuters]