Iraqbombing kills 17 at Sunni mosque; Ahmadinejad wraps up visit.
|Iran's outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center,|
visits the tomb of Imam Ali in Iraq's holy city of Najaf.
BAGHDAD | 19 Jul 2013 :: A bomb ripped through a full Sunni mosque in central Iraq during midday prayers Friday, killing at least 17 people in the latest outburst of deadly violence targeting worshipers during the holy month of Ramadan.
Suicide attacks, car bombings and other violence have killed nearly 200 people since the Islamic holy month of daytime fasting and charity began last week.
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 after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
The attack struck while Iran's outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wrapped up a two-day trip to Iraq with visits to the Shiite Muslim holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, south of the capital, Baghdad. There was no indication the mosque blast was related to his trips.
Diyala provincial councilman Sadiq Husseini said Friday's explosion hit the Abu Bakir Al Sidiq mosque in the town of Wijaihiya, which is about 50 miles northeast of Baghdad. He said it killed at least 17 people.
The blast went off on the left side of the mosque, which was filled with men and children, as worshippers were kneeling during prayers, said 30-year-old Mohammed Faleh, who was praying inside.
Faleh said security forces found a second bomb left near the mosque that they rendered safe with a controlled detonation.
“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.
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 Husseini, the councilman. “I call on all Diyala residents to show self-restraint.”
Police and hospital officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information to media, confirmed the death toll. They also reported that more than 50 were wounded in the explosion, and warned that the number of dead could rise. (Courtesy:Los Angeles Times)