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Car Bomb Attack Leaves At Least 24 Dead In Baghdad

At least 24 people were killed and scores of others injured in a suicide car bomb attack in Iraq's capital city of Baghdad, local media reports citing officials said Monday.

The attack reportedly targeted the office of the Shiite Waqf (Endowment) in Baghdad's Bab al-Muadham neighborhood. The targeted agency takes care of all Shiite religious sites in the country.

Security forces cordoned off the area soon after the explosion. The authorities are currently engaged in searching for survivors and rushing the injured as well as bodies recovered from the explosion site to nearby hospitals.

The deputy chief of the Shiite Wafq, Sami al-Massudi, has appealed for calm, saying: "We call on the Iraqi people and especially on the sons of our religion to bury the strife because there is a plan to launch a civil war between the people, and between the Iraqi sects."

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, local authorities blame the al-Qaeda's Iraqi wing, a Sunni organization. The suicide bomber detonated the explosives in his vehicle after parking it in front of the Waqf building.

The explosion is said to have destroyed the front portion of the targeted building. In addition to the dead, more than 60 others were injured in the explosion. Officials have expressed fears that the death toll in the incident could rise further as some of the injured are in critical condition.

The suicide bombing in Baghdad comes just days after a series of bombings killed at least 17 people in the Iraqi capital. Most of such attacks have been blamed on Sunni Islamist insurgents, still active in the country despite ongoing efforts to improve security.

Although violence has dropped across Iraq in recent years, the war-ravaged country still witnesses such attacks on a regular basis. Such incidents increased drastically after U.S. combat forces left the country in December. It is estimated that more than 200 people have died in militant attacks across Iraq since the U.S. troop pullout.

The last of U.S. combat troops left Iraq by the end of December, ending a decade-long American military presence since the 2001 invasion of the Middle East nation. The ending of the U.S. combat mission was in line with a bilateral security agreement that required the withdrawal of all American troops from the country by the end of 2011.

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