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Suicide Blast, Bombings Strike Baghdad

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Bomb attacks on a Shiite mosque and elsewhere in southern Baghdad killed at least 15 people Friday as a top religious official urged unity among Iraqis in the fight against the Islamic State group.

The deadliest of the attacks targeted the mosque in the Iraqi capital's Nahiyet al-Rasheed neighborhood. A roadside bomb blast went off on the street outside the mosque just as worshippers were finishing Friday prayers, police said. Within minutes, a suicide bomber inside the mosque detonated an explosives vest. Ten people were killed and 28 were wounded in that coordinated attack, according to police.

Two separate roadside bombs exploded in commercial areas of southeast Baghdad, killing five people and wounding nine, security officials said.

Hospital officials confirmed the casualties. Like the police, they spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but near-daily attacks in Baghdad are often claimed by the Islamic State group.

In the Shiite holy city of Karbala, the representative of Iraq's most influential Shite cleric called for unity in the fight against IS and condemned recent attacks abroad claimed by the group.

"The attacks that captured the world's attention, including the Russian aircraft bombing and the bombings in Beirut and Paris, claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians," said Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's representative, Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai.

"The Iraqi people are on the frontline of this fight against terrorism," he said, referring to the battle with the group, which controls Iraq's second largest city of Mosul and key urban areas in Iraq's Anbar province.

He called the threat from the group "the greatest challenge and danger to the Iraqi people of all religions, sects and ethnic groups."

Despite more than a year of intense airstrikes carried out by a U.S.-led coalition supporting Iraqi ground operations, the war against the Islamic State group in Iraq is largely at a stalemate.

Kurdish forces in Iraq's north cut a key highway as they pushed IS forces out of the town of Sinjar, but the larger cities that make up the backbone of the group's operations in Iraq remain under tight IS control.

Murtada Faraj contributed to this report from Baghdad.