Sunday 17 December 2017

Shiites targeted in Iraq bombings

A man inspects the aftermath of a car bomb attack in the neighborhood of Shaab in Baghdad (AP)
A man inspects the aftermath of a car bomb attack in the neighborhood of Shaab in Baghdad (AP)

A suicide attack and a car bombing have killed at least 19 people and wounded 38 in separate attacks targeting Shiites north of Baghdad.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, the latest in an increasing wave of violence across the country.

Iraq has been facing its deadliest outburst of violence since 2008, with more than 2,000 people killed since the start of April.

The bloodshed appears to be largely the work of resurgent Sunni militants such as al Qaida's Iraq branch, feeding off Sunni discontent with the Shiite-led government.

The deadliest attack on Friday took place in Baghdad's Kiraiyat district as worshippers gathered after the evening call to prayers at the Hussienieh Ali Basha mosque. A suicide bomber walked in during the service and detonated his explosives, killing 15 worshippers and wounding 32, a police officer and a medical official said.

Earlier, an explosives-laden vehicle detonated near a Shiite protest camp in the city of Samarra, a police officer said.

Since December, Iraq's Sunni minority has been staging demonstrations over what it calls second-class treatment by the Shiite-led government. In some place clashes have erupted between security forces and protesters.

Violence increased sharply in April and May, with frequent bombings in civilian areas raising concerns that a widespread sectarian conflict could once again break out in Iraq. The bloodshed accelerated after a deadly April 23 crackdown by security forces on a Sunni anti-government protest in the northern town of Hawija in which 23 people were killed.

Hoping to stem the violence with a sign of solidarity, both Sunni and Shiite worshippers gathered on Friday at Abdul-Qadir al-Gailani Mosque in central Baghdad to kneel and pray side by side. As they prayed, the mosque remained under tight security.

Press Association

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