Middle East

Bomb attacks on mosques in Iraq kill at least 11


At least 11 people have died and more than 30 wounded in bomb attacks at mosques in Iraq's capital Baghdad and in the province of Diyala.

The highest casualty toll occurred in Kanaan, Diyala, some 75km (47 miles) north-east of Baghdad.

The bomb went off as Sunni worshippers were leaving Friday prayers at the Omar Bin Abdul-Aziz mosque.

The attacks come ahead of Iraq's provincial elections on 20 April; the first in the country since 2010.

One worshipper at the mosque in Kanaan said some 250 worshippers were leaving the mosque when the bomb went off near the gate.

"Police were not protecting the mosque and people had to be taken to hospital in cars," Ahmed al-Karkhi told Reuters news agency by telephone.

Tensions are high between Iraq's Sunni and Shia, amid claims by the majority Sunni Muslim communities that they are being marginalised by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's Shia-led government.

Sunni Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda have attempted to destabilise the government by stepping up attacks, mainly on Shia but also Sunni targets this year.

In recent weeks more than 11 election candidates have been shot dead.

Violence has decreased in Iraq since the peak of the insurgency in 2006 and 2007, but bombings are still common.