Violence comes as officials announce initial election results
BAGHDAD – A suicide bombing inside a Shiite mosque during evening prayers and other attacks north of Baghdad killed 23 people in Iraq on Saturday, as officials announced preliminary results for local elections in two provinces that showed the parliament speaker’s bloc leading.
The attacks are the latest in a wave of killings that has claimed more than 2,000 lives since the start of April. It is the bloodiest and most sustained spate of violence to hit Iraq since 2008.
The deadliest attack happened after sunset when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a Shiite mosque in the village of Sabaa al-Bour, about 20 miles north of Baghdad. It killed 14 and wounded 32, police said.
The community used to be a religiously mixed area that was home to both Sunni and Shiite Muslims, but the Sunnis were displaced by members of the Mehdi Army Shiite militia during the post-invasion wave of sectarian killing that peaked in 2006 and 2007, according to police.
Many large religious sites are surrounded by concrete blast walls, but police said the village mosque had no protective barriers.
Elsewhere on Saturday, suicide bombers and gunmen killed nine, including six police officers, and wounded 11.
Meanwhile, election officials said a partial count of ballots for provincial-level elections held Thursday in Sunni-dominated Anbar and Ninevah provinces showed Sunni parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi’s United bloc leading with the largest number of votes in both provinces.
Iraqis voted in 12 of Iraq’s 18 provinces two months ago.
Final election results are expected to be released in the coming days.