Blasts at Sunni mosques kill 21
String of attacks continue in Baghdad
BAGHDAD – Bombs exploded outside two Sunni mosques in Baghdad late Saturday, killing at least 21 people leaving prayers and extending a wave of daily violence rippling across Iraq since the start of the holy month of Ramadan, authorities said.
A separate attack at a funeral northeast of the capital killed at least three others.
Police said the first Baghdad blast went off around 10 p.m. near the gate of the Khalid bin al-Walid mosque in the capital’s southern Dora neighborhood, a largely Sunni Muslim area. It struck just after the end of special late-evening prayers held during Ramadan.
At least 16 people were killed and 31 were wounded, police said. A hospital official confirmed the casualty toll.
Soon after, a car bomb exploded at another Sunni worship center, the Mullah Huwaish mosque, in the Hay al-Jami’a area in western Baghdad. That blast killed five and wounded 19, according to police and health officials.
Iraq is weathering its worst eruption of violence in half a decade, raising fears the country is heading back toward the widespread sectarian fighting that peaked in 2006 and 2007. More than 2,600 people have been killed since the start of April.
The pace of the bloodshed has picked up since Ramadan began Wednesday, including a suicide bombing at a coffee shop in the northern city of Kirkuk late Friday that killed dozens.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the recent wave of attacks.
Sunni extremists, including al-Qaida’s Iraq branch, frequently target Shiites, security forces and civil servants in an effort to undermine the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. They also could be behind Saturday’s attack on the Sunni mosques, hoping that the bombings will spark a sectarian backlash against Shiites.
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