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In tense Baghdad, a wave of deadly blasts

By Jomana Karadsheh, CNN
updated 4:34 PM EST, Sat January 18, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: 13 of 23 escapees from a juvenile prison have been captured, police say
  • Dozens have been injured in the Baghdad bombings -- six car bombs and a roadside bomb
  • One explosion in Baghdad went off near a mall
  • Earlier Saturday, an attack in Kirkuk targeted a marketplace

(CNN) -- At least 19 people were killed in bombings in Baghdad on Saturday evening, police said.

The deadliest blast was caused by a car bomb that exploded near a Western-style mall in the western Mansour district, killing at least six people. At least 13 other people died in six other incidents across the city, Iraq's capital.

At least 74 people were wounded in the Baghdad bombings -- six car bombs and one roadside bomb.

Baghdad police officials said that gunmen broke out 23 prisoners from the Tobchi juvenile prison in Baghdad and that two police officers were killed and three wounded. But that report was contradicted by Labor Minister Nassar al-Rubaie, who said on state TV that no prisoners escaped. The Labor Department runs the juvenile prison.

By around midnight, 13 of the 23 escapees had been captured in three neighborhoods of Baghdad, police officials there said.

Earlier Saturday, at least one person was killed and 11 others were wounded when two explosive devices detonated in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, the city's police said.

The attack targeted a marketplace in the southern part of the city, police said.

Iraq has been engulfed in fighting and political instability in recent months. The United Nations said 2013 was the deadliest year in Iraq since 2008, with almost 8,000 people killed, most of them civilians. On Wednesday, at least 61 people were killed and scores wounded in the latest wave of attacks in the Iraqi capital and across the country.

Fears of all-out sectarian war have increased since violence broke out in Anbar province, where al Qaeda-backed militants and Iraq's security forces have been battling for control of Falluja and Ramadi.

The violence recalls the bloody fighting at the height of the Iraq war that nearly tore the country apart.

On Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden talked with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki about U.S. support for Iraq's fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a group that is trying to overthrow the Iraqi government. Biden's office said the two leaders agreed on the importance of the Iraqi government's continued outreach to local and tribal leaders in Anbar province.

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