Iraq bomb: Many dead in Shia mosque in Tuz Khurmato

The blast targeted worshippers attending a funeral at the mosque, as Ros Atkins reports

At least 23 people have been killed by a suicide bomber at a Shia mosque in the Iraqi village of Tuz Khurmato, with scores more wounded, police say.

The blast targeted worshippers attending a funeral at the mosque.

Although sectarian violence in Iraq has decreased since its height in 2006 and 2007, attacks on Shia are common, with many blamed on Sunni militants.

Tuz Khurmato lies 175km (110 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad, and is populated mainly by ethnic Turkmen.

The town is disputed between the government in Baghdad and ethnic Kurds, who inhabit a semi-autonomous region in the north and claim territory in four other nearby regions.

It was the scene of a shooting in November which left the two sides in an ongoing military standoff.

'Wrapped in carpets'

More than 75 people were injured in the bomb attack, medical officials said.

Initial reports put the death toll as high as 35.

"The suicide bomber managed to enter and blow himself up in the middle of the mourners," Shallal Abdul, mayor of Tuz Khurmato, told the AFP news agency.

Eyewitness Abbas Qadir Mohammed was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying: "I was sitting in the seats at the back when all of sudden I heard the sound of a huge explosion.

"Thank God I was behind because people in front of me saved me with their bodies."

The agency described survivors packing dead and injured people wrapped in carpets into lorries and cars to take them to hospital.

On Tuesday, at least 17 people were killed and dozens more wounded by a series of car bombings in and around Baghdad.

The assassination of a senior Sunni lawmaker last week has further inflamed sectarian tension between Sunnis and Shia, correspondents say.

In recent weeks, thousands of Sunnis have been holding mass protests in western Iraq against what they believe is discriminatory treatment by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shia-dominated government.

The frequent bombings and the political crisis have stoked fears among Iraqis of a return to civil war.

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