Explosion kills 22 Iraqi worshippers
BAGHDAD — A bomb hidden in an air conditioner that ripped through a Sunni mosque during midday prayers and other attacks killed at least 26 in Iraq on Friday, extending a wave of violence targeting worshippers during the holy month of Ramadan.
Suicide attacks, car bombings and other violence have killed more than 200 people since the Islamic holy month of daytime fasting and charity began last week, according to an Associated Press count.
The violence is an extension of a surge of attacks that has roiled Iraq for months, reviving fears of a return to the widespread sectarian bloodshed that pushed the country to the brink of civil war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Most of those killed Friday were performing midday prayers in the packed Abu Bakir al-Sideeq mosque in the town of Wijaihiya, which is about 50 miles northeast of Baghdad.
Worshippers and other eyewitnesses said the bomb apparently was planted inside a wall-mounted air conditioning unit to the left of the pulpit. AP television footage of the aftermath showed the interior of the mosque near the bomb site charred and shrapnel damage peppering the walls. Glass, shoes and other debris littered the blood-soaked red prayer rugs lining the floor.
One of those praying inside, 30-year-old Mohammed Faleh, said the blast struck as male worshippers, including children, were kneeling during communal prayers.
“I stood up to find blood-stained bodies lying on the ground. The Friday prayer turned into a disaster. Whoever left these bombs has no religion,” he said.
Faleh said security forces found a second bomb left near the mosque that they rendered safe with a controlled detonation.
Between 250 to 300 people were inside the mosque when the bombing happened, said Sami Dawoud Salman, a member of the local Sahwa, a group of anti-al-Qaida Sunni militiamen that work alongside government security forces. He said the mosque was unguarded and that the local imam had been unsuccessful in getting increased protection.
“I'm asking the government for a solution. There's no security,” survivor Jassim Dawoud said. “It's a disastrous situation.”
Diyala province, where the attack occurred, was once the site of some of the fiercest fighting between U.S. forces and insurgents in Iraq. It remains a hotbed for terrorist attacks. The area is religiously mixed and witnessed some of the worst atrocities as Shiite militias battled Sunni insurgents for control in the years after the invasion.
“Terrorism is targeting all sects in Diyala mainly by attacking Sunni and Shiite mosques, funerals and football fields to draw the province into a sectarian conflict. All the victims were civilians,” said Diyala provincial Councilman Sadiq al-Husseini, appealing for calm. “I call on all Diyala residents to show self-restraint.”
Police and hospital officials said that at least 22 people were killed and more than 50 were wounded in the mosque blast.
Attacks outside the restive city of Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, claimed four more lives. Two women died when mortar shells landed outside their house in nearby village, and a roadside bomb killed a father and son when it struck their car, authorities said.
The officials provided details of the attacks on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information to media.
The attacks struck as Iran's outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wrapped up a two-day trip to Iraq with visits to Shiite Muslim holy cities of Najaf and Karbala south of Baghdad. There was no indication the attacks were related to his trip.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Social media being used to help catch British terrorist who killed Foley
- Bombed factories in Gaza raise ire
- 111-year-old from Japan recognized as oldest man
- Peruvian nurse cares for 175 terminally ill cats
- Israeli airstrike kills 3 senior Hamas leaders
- Islamic State fighters massacre as many as 700 Syrian tribesmen, activists report
- Israel, Gaza militants trade fire after talks fail
- Landslide in Japan leaves dozens dead
- Ukrainian troops regaining control
- Neanderthals, humans may have mingled, study finds
- Liberian slum sealed off as Ebola deaths mount