Suicide bomber kills 22 mourners at Iraq Shiite mosque

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 4:06am

A suicide bomber blew himself up at a mourning ceremony inside a Shiite mosque in Iraq, killing at least 22 people, police said.

The explosion late on Monday brought down the ceiling of the mosque in the town of Muqdadiya, 80 kilometres northeast of the capital Baghdad, crushing Shiites who were marking the death of a police officer killed in a recent roadside bombing.

The violence is part of a sustained campaign of militant attacks since the start of the year that has prompted warnings of wider conflict in a country where ethnic Kurds, Shiite and Sunni Muslims have yet to find a stable power-sharing compromise.

A separate suicide bombing in a coffee shop in a Shiite district of the city of Baquba, 50 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, brought Monday's death toll to 27.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but suicide bombings are the trademark of al-Qaeda's local affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, which security experts say has regained strength in recent months.

Insurgents have been recruiting from Iraq's Sunni minority, which resents Shiite domination since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Sectarian tensions have been inflamed by the civil war in neighbouring Syria, which is fast spreading into a region-wide proxy war, drawing in Shiite and Sunni fighters from Iraq and beyond to fight on opposite sides of the conflict.

Highlighting the risks of spillover, security forces on Monday destroyed an insurgent camp near the Iraqi town of Baaj, around 30 kilometres from the Syrian border, killing 10 gunmen who were not of Iraqi origin, police said.

Three members of the security forces also died in the clashes.