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Ten Dead as Car Bombs Hit Two Baghdad Luxury Hotels

Car bombs have exploded near two of Baghdad's most luxurious hotels, killing at least 10 people, authorities said.

The explosions, which appeared coordinated before midnight on May 28, were heard across the city center.

According to police, an Interior Ministry official, and medical sources, at least 27 people were wounded.

No group immediately asserted responsibility for the bombings, but Islamic State (IS) militants have frequently attacked the Iraqi capital, with bombings on the rise in recent weeks.

The militant group is battling government forces barely 30 kilometers west of the capital.

The strike aimed at targets frequented by foreigners and wealthy Iraqis.

The first explosion went off near the Babylon hotel, a swanky and recently refurbished hotel overlooking the Tigris River. It faces the U.S. Embassy and Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

Six people died there. A car bomb was set off in the hotel's parking lot.

Police said security forces found another car bomb in the Babylon's parking lot and defused it.

The second car bomb exploded a few minutes later near the Cristal Grand Ishtar, shattering windows of the recently renovated hotel and turning rows of cars and SUVs into piles of charred, twisted metal.

The Ishtar, formerly the city's Sheraton hotel, is a popular site for weddings and a prominent feature of Baghdad's skyline.

It overlooks the Tigris from the central neighborhood of Karrada, and is near a popular club that is usually crowded late on Thursday nights. Four people died there.

Thick black smoke snaked into the night sky as gunfire rang out and ambulance sirens wailed.

Sunni extremist groups have a history of attacking the Iraqi capital’s most prominent hotels. In 2010, the Babylon and the Sheraton were hit in a coordinated bomb attack.

The Hamra Hotel, which is frequented by journalists, was also targeted in that attack, and at least 36 people were killed.

Iraqi authorities lifted a decade-old nighttime curfew on Baghdad early this year, seeking to restore a sense of normality to the capital as security forces battle IS militants who have overrun large parts of the country.

But the rate of bombings in Baghdad has increased since then.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and The Washington Post
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