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Suicide bomber kills 22 in Iraqi Shia mosque

  • Published at 08:10 am July 2nd, 2013

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

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

Police said the death toll could rise because people remained trapped beneath the rubble.

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, Shia and Sunni Muslims have yet to find a stable power-sharing compromise.

A separate suicide bombing in a coffee shop in a Shia district of the city of Baquba, about 50km 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.

Highlighting the risks of spillover, security forces on Monday destroyed an insurgent camp near the Iraqi town of Baaj, around 30km 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.

The number of people killed in militant attacks across Iraq reached 761 in June, the United Nations said on Monday, still well below the height of bloodletting in 2006-07 when monthly death tolls sometimes topped 3,000.

Iraqi military forces are now better equipped and trained, but lack the comprehensive intelligence resources and air cover capability to track insurgents that they enjoyed before US troops withdrew in December 2011.