Gunmen stormed into a Baghdad mall on Monday after setting off a car bomb and launching a suicide attack at its entrance, killing at least 19 people and wounding 48 in the city's mainly Shia east, Iraqi officials said.
The officials initially described the attack as a hostage situation, estimating that 50 people were trapped inside the complex. But Iraqi forces soon surrounded the building and landed troops on the roof. They clashed with the attackers inside, killing two of them, arresting another four and declaring the standoff over.
At least four police were among those killed in the assault, which lasted around an hour and a half, according to the police and medical officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
Following the attack, authorities shut down the city's highly fortified Green Zone, home to a number of foreign embassies and most of the country's political elite. A number of major roads, shopping malls and bridges around the Iraqi capital were also closed for fear of follow-up attacks.
Also on Monday evening, a car bomb in southeast Baghdad in a crowded market area killed five and wounded 12, according to hospital and police officials.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group claimed responsibility for the attack, as well as for a later attack in Diyala province.
Seven others were killed in a separate bombing in the capital, which has not been claimed by any group so far.
In Muqdadiya, a town northeast of Baghdad, twin suicide bombing killed another 18 people at a casino.
The second bomb went off as medics and civilians gathered at the site of the first blast.
Monday's attacks left the biggest death toll in the country in three months.
ISIL controls much of northern and western Iraq, but suffered a major defeat last month when Iraqi forces drove the group's fighters out of the western city of Ramadi, capital of the sprawling Anbar province.
The ISIL rampage across Iraq in the summer of 2014 was halted several miles away from Baghdad, but the group has claimed a number of attacks in the heavily guarded capital since then.
The rise of ISIL, a hardline Sunni group which views Shias as heretics, has exacerbated sectarian conflict between Shias and Sunnis in the country. Subsequent efforts to defeat ISIL, which have sometimes relied on fighting by Shia militia groups, have in turn antagonized Sunnis, who form Iraq’s largest minority group with more than one-third of the total population.
Al Jazeera and wire services