Baghdad car bomb claimed by ISIS kills 47

A car packed with explosives blows up in southern Baghdad, killing at least 47 people and wounding more than 60 others in the deadliest such attack in Iraq this year.

Extremist group stepping up strikes on government areas

Baghdad municipality workers clean up the aftermath of a suicide car bomb attack at a used cars dealers parking lot in the eastern Habibiya neighbourhood of Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursday. (Karim Kadim/Associated Press)

A car packed with explosives blew up on Thursday in southern Baghdad, killing at least 47 people and wounding more than 60 others, security and medical sources said, in the deadliest such attack in Iraq this year.

ISIS, which is on the defensive after losing control of eastern Mosul to a U.S.-backed Iraqi military offensive, claimed responsibility for the bombing in an online statement.

As it cedes territory captured in a 2014 offensive across northern and western Iraq, the ultra-hardline group has stepped up insurgent strikes on government areas, particularly in the capital Baghdad.

Security sources said the vehicle which blew up on Thursday was parked in a crowded street full of garages and used car dealers, in Hayy al-Shurta in the southwest of the city.

The death toll could climb further as many of the wounded are in critical condition, a doctor said.

The bombing is the second to hit car markets this week, suggesting the group has found it easier to leave vehicles laden with explosives in places where hundreds of other vehicles are parked.

A suicide bomber detonated a pick-up truck on Wednesday in  the Sadr City suburb in the east of the capital, killing at least 15 people. That explosion took place in a street full of used car dealers.

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have dislodged Islamic State from most of the cities it captured in 2014 and 2015. The militants also control parts of Syria.

Iraqi government forces last month captured eastern Mosul and are now preparing an offensive on the western side that remains under the militants' control. The city is divided in two halves by the Tigris river. 

With files from The Associated Press