Iraqi officials: Suicide bombing against Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad kills 9, wounds 21

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BAGHDAD — Iraqi officials say a suicide bombing in Baghdad targeting Shiite Muslims taking part in an annual pilgrimage has killed nine people and wounded another 21.

Monday's attack targeted a checkpoint along a route used by pilgrims in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of al-Shaab.

Police officials say four soldiers are among the dead.

It was the first attack on Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad during the lead-up to the religious commemoration known as Arbaeen, when Shiite faithful converge on the holy city of Karbala.

The annual commemoration is often marked by violence despite tight security measures to protect the pilgrims, many of whom travel to Karbala on foot.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Iraq's military command has told civilians in the Islamic State-held Ramadi to leave the city, a sign that an operation may soon be underway to retake the provincial capital.

Monday's statement, broadcast on Iraqi state TV, says the Ramadi families are requested to leave the city from its southern, Himaira area. No further instructions or details were given.

It's unclear if the long-awaited operation to recapture Ramadi is imminent.

The U.S.-led alliance carried out seven airstrikes near Ramadi on Saturday, targeting IS fighters, key positions and weapons caches.

IS captured Ramadi in May, after government forces abandoned their posts. The provincial capital of Anbar province is located about 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad.

The Sunni extremist group controls large swaths of territory in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

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