Suicide bombers have killed at least three people while attacking a shopping district in east Mosul that was retaken from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group a few months ago, according to Iraqi medical and security officials.

The attack struck the area's Muthanna neighbourhood late on Friday as residents shopped in advance of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"The first suicide bomber blew himself up as he was being stopped by a policeman, who died on the spot," a senior police officer told AFP news agency.

Is it over for ISIL? - UpFront special

A second bomber managed to enter a shopping arcade and blew himself up among civilians, killing at least two and wounding nine, according to the same officer and a medic at Al-Khansaa hospital.

A third suicide bomber was killed by police before he could detonate his vest, the sources said.

The attack was not the first but among the bloodiest since Iraqi forces retook the eastern side of Mosul in January as part of a massive offensive to wrest back the country's second city from ISIL.

Residents in areas retaken from ISIL have cautioned that sleeper cells remain a threat and that cursory screening has allowed many ISIL supporters to return to civilian life without facing justice.

There had been growing calls in east Mosul before Friday night's attack for the families of ISIL members to be, among other measures, banished for 10 years.

READ MORE: The rise and fall of ISIL explained

On Thursday, Iraq's prime minister said the "liberation" of the city of Mosul from ISIL would be announced in a few days.

"It's a matter of a few days and we will announce the total liberation of Mosul," Haider al-Abadi was quoted by Baghdad-based Sumaria TV as saying.

The announcement came as Iraqi forces were continuing the battle against ISIL fighters in their last stronghold in western Mosul, the city's old town - a densely populated quarter with narrow, winding alleys.

Up to 150,000 civilians are believed to be trapped in there, where conditions have been described by the UN as desperate.

Mosque destroyed

The fight for Mosul has now lasted for more than eight months. 

On Wednesday ISIL fighters blew up al-Nuri Mosque as Iraqi forces advanced on the ancient religious compound.

The battle for Mosul has been going on for more than eight months [Al Jazeera]

Officials from Iraq and the US-led anti-ISIL coalition said the destruction of the site was a sign of ISIL’s imminent loss of Mosul, with Abadi calling it an "official declaration of defeat".

The loss of the iconic 12th-century minaret - one of the country's most recognisable monuments sometimes referred to as Iraq's Tower of Pisa - left the country in shock.

What can be done to stop cultural genocide? – Inside Story

Source: News agencies