Baghdad: The Islamic State (IS) militant group on Monday claimed responsibility for the suicide attack targeting a crowded mall in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, which killed at least eighteen people, the group said in an online statement.
The group said that four of its suicide bombers carried out the attack on a gathering of Shia crowds at al-Jawhara Mall in Baghdad.
Three of the suicide bombers blew up themselves among the Shias and killed many, while the fourth one detonated his explosive-laden car spearing into a security force which was ordered to secure the scene, said the statement, whose authenticity could not be independently verified, Xinhua reported.
Major General Abdul Amir al-Shimary, commander of Baghdad Operations Command, said that the evening attack was carried out by two suicide bombers who stormed the mall building after a car bomb explosion at the entrance of the shopping centre.
Al-Shimary said the suicide bombers opened fire as they ran into the mall, however security guards shot one of them, discharging the bomb which then blew him up, while the second assailant was forced to detonate himself, confirming that the attackers could not have taken civilians as hostages since they were killed within the vicinity of the mall entrance.
Earlier, an interior ministry source had said that the attackers entered the shopping centre and held a number of civilians as hostages, leaving at least seven people killed, while 20 others were injured during the attack.
Iraqi security forces then cordoned off the scene, deployed themselves out to surround the area, while helicopters flew overhead to secure the place, according to the source.
The IS group frequently targets areas where crowds gather, including markets, cafes and mosques across Iraq.
The security situation in Iraq has drastically deteriorated since June 2014, when bloody clashes broke out between security forces and IS militants.