(BAGHDAD) — In another major attack ahead of Saturday’s Iraqi provincial elections, at least 26 people were killed Thursday evening when a bomb blew up inside a crowded Baghdad cafe.
At least 50 others were wounded by the explosion.
Witnesses said the blast was caused by a suicide bomber. The force of the explosion was so powerful that a mother and her two children outside the building were also killed.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, although suspicion immediately fell on the Islamic State of Iraq, the leading al Qaeda group operating in the country.
Last Monday, dozens were killed and close to 300 injured from at least 25 bombings throughout Iraq that targeted candidates and civilians, most of them in Shiite neighborhoods.
Violence has been on the increase as Iraqis prepare to go the polls for their first election since U.S. forces pulled out of the country 16 months ago.
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Evan McKirdy, Tim Hume and James Masters, CNN
Catherine E. Shoichet, Max Blau and Steve Almasy, CNN
Alison Daye, CNN
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News