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Two bombs outside Baghdad cafe kill 17 people

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Two bombs exploded outside a cafe in Baghdad on Monday, killing 17 people and wounding 37, police and medical sources said, the latest in a series of attacks on the few social meeting places left open in the Iraqi capital.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast in the mainly Shi'ite Muslim eastern district of Sadriya.

But Sunni Muslim insurgents, some linked to al Qaeda, have regularly bombed cafes, restaurants and sports matches since the start of 2013, amid the country's worst spate of violence in five years.

"When the first bomb exploded, people ran to investigate ... Minutes later the second bomb exploded," said a grocer who gave his name as Abu Zuhair.

"I saw many wounded and dead people. Everyone was running away from the scene," he added.

It was the third attack reported around Baghdad on Monday.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at a police checkpoint in the northeast, killing three officers and wounding seven, police said.

A roadside bomb detonated in the mainly Sunni district of Doura in the south of the capital, killing two fighters from the government-backed Sunni "Sahwa" militia and wounding four more, police added.

Most areas of Baghdad are fortified by blast walls against almost daily bomb attacks which have all but wiped out public entertainment, especially after nightfall.

Nearly 1,000 people were killed in October in Iraq, according to United Nations figures. The violence, partly fuelled by the increasingly sectarian conflict in neighboring Syria, has reached levels not seen since 2006-2007 when sectarian attacks killed tens of thousands.

The United nations has called on Iraq's feuding political leaders to cooperate to end the violence that has escalated since U.S. troops withdrew in December 2011.

(Reporting by Kareem Raheem and Suadad al-Salhy; Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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