Car explosion (illustration)
Car explosion (illustration)Thinkstock

Car bombs exploded Thursday night near two of Baghdad's most high-profile hotels, killing at least three people, police said, according to AFP.

The explosions occurred just before midnight local time and were heard across the city center. Local police and an interior ministry source said at least 13 people were also wounded.

The first explosion went off near the Babylon hotel, a swanky and recently refurbished hotel overlooking the Tigris river.

The second car bomb exploded a few minutes later in an area close to the  Ishtar -- another recently renovated hotel that is still often referred to as the Sheraton -- and a popular club which is usually crowded at that time on a Thursday.

The Palestine hotel -- which has been hit by various deadly attacks over the years -- is also close to the site of the second blast, noted AFP.

Police said security forces found another car bomb in the Babylon hotel car park and were attempting to defuse it.

A years-old midnight curfew was lifted in February after Iraqi forces retook areas around Baghdad from the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group and a huge car bomb-making cell was dismantled.

Attacks have continued since but are less frequent than the previous year.

ISIS, which is still battling government forces barely 18 miles west of the capital, has claimed many of the biggest attacks in Baghdad and elsewhere in the country.

In April, car bombs in the Baghdad area, including one near a hospital, killed at least eight people.

Two days earlier, seven people were killed and 31 wounded in a car bomb blast in Baghdad's western neighborhood of Bayaa.

Another two people were killed the same day by a roadside bomb in Taji, just north of the capital.