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Attacks in Baghdad kill at least 11; IS militants set oil wells outside Tikrit ablaze

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BAGHDAD — Insurgents unleashed a series of attacks mostly targeting civilian areas in and around the Iraqi capital on Thursday, killing at least 11 and wounding many others, officials said. Meanwhile, Islamic State group militants in the country's north set oil wells ablaze in an attempt to foil government forces battling to reclaim territory.

A bomb ripped through an outdoor market in the Baghdad suburb of Nahrawan, killing three civilians and wounding 12, a police officer said. Another bomb targeted a military patrol in the northeastern district of Rashdiya, killing three soldiers and wounding seven, he added.

Mortar shells hit a residential area in the southern district of Dora, killing two civilians and wounding six, another officer said. An explosion in a market in Mahmoudiyah, 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of Baghdad, killed three civilians and wounded seven.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

The attacks come as government forces, Iranian-backed Shiite militias and Sunni volunteers continued their fight to recapture key areas around Saddam Hussein's hometown, Tikrit, which fell to Islamic State militants in June.

PHOTO: Qais al-Khazali, center, the leader of the Shiite group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or League of the Righteous, attends funeral procession of six members  of his militia who were killed in Tikrit fighting Islamic militants, in Najaf, 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, March 5, 2015. Iranian-backed Shiite militias and Sunni tribes have joined Iraq's military in a major operation to retake Tikrit from the Islamic State group, while the U.S. led coalition has remained on the sidelines. (AP Photo/Jaber al-Helo)
Qais al-Khazali, center, the leader of the Shiite group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or League of the Righteous, attends funeral procession of six members of his militia who were killed in Tikrit fighting Islamic militants, in Najaf, 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, March 5, 2015. Iranian-backed Shiite militias and Sunni tribes have joined Iraq's military in a major operation to retake Tikrit from the Islamic State group, while the U.S. led coalition has remained on the sidelines. (AP Photo/Jaber al-Helo)

On Thursday, militants set fire to some oil wells outside the city, an oil official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to release information. The smoky fires were apparently meant to obscure targets from government bombing runs, part of the wide-scale operation that began Monday.

Ajeel oil field, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) northeast of Tikrit, was one of at least four fields seized by the militants as a source of crude oil to sell to smugglers to finance their operations.

Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, in charge of recapturing Tikrit and surrounding areas, told state TV the burning oil wells "will not affect us." He said operations were continuing as planned, without elaborating.

Tikrit is strategically important as a major supply link for any future operation to reclaim Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city and the extremists' biggest stronghold.

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