/ 31 July 2009

Baghdad Shi’ite mosques bombed, 27 killed

A string of powerful bomb attacks targetting Shi’ite Muslim worshippers as they emerged from mosques across Baghdad on Friday killed 27 people and wounded more than 50, security officials said.

The six apparently coordinated blasts occurred outside mosques and prayer centres in and around the capital, including one frequented by followers of radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, they said.

The most devastating attack was in the northeastern Baghdad district of al-Shaab, where a car bomb killed 21 people and injured 35 others, an Interior Ministry official said.

”At least 21 people were killed and 35 wounded by a bomb targeting citizens while they were leaving al-Shurufi mosque in al-Shaab,” a security official said.

In twin bombings at Diyala bridge, 10km south of Baghdad, four people were killed and seven wounded.

”In Diyala bridge, four people were killed and seven wounded in two bombings targeting citizens at the al-Rasoul al-Adham mosque after Friday prayers,” the official added.

Attacks in Zafaraniyah and Kamaliyah neighbourhoods killed one person each and left six and three people wounded respectively. A separate attack in al-Elam in western Baghdad injured four.

Attacks in Baghdad over the past two months have mostly targetted Iraq’s majority Shi’ite community, prompting fears of efforts by al-Qaeda fighters to reignite the sectarian violence that swept the country, killing tens of thousands of people, in 2006 and 2007.

Violence has dropped markedly throughout Iraq in recent months, but attacks increased in the run-up to the US military pullback a month ago from urban centres, with 437 Iraqis killed in June — the highest death toll in 11 months.

Attacks remain particularly common in the capital Baghdad and the restive northern city of Mosul.

Violence has claimed several lives over the past week and on Thursday 11 people were killed in two separate attacks, one against a political party’s offices in Baquba, north of Baghdad, while the other targetted a police station near the Iraq-Syria border.

On Wednesday a senior US commander warned that security forces would have to be watchful of violence targeting parties and politicians in the run-up to general elections next January.

”Leading up to the elections, we’re also going to see some politically motivated violence,” said Colonel Tobin Green, commander of the US army’s 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.

On Tuesday 10 people were killed and 42 others were injured in a string of attacks in Baghdad, including a motorcycle bomb near a cinema in a crowded area of the predominantly Shi’ite neighbourhood of Baghdad Jadida.

Those bombings came as US Defence Secretary Robert Gates visited Iraq to assess the security situation after US troops withdrew from urban centres at the end of June.

On Monday a senior Iraqi army officer, a Sunni tribal chief and two Iraqi special forces soldiers were among six people killed in violence across the country. — AFP