Middle East

Iraq crisis: Suicide blast targets Baghdad Shia mosque

Troops outside Shia mosque in New Baghdad that was targeted by a suicide bomber (25 August 2014) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption It is not clear if the bombing on the Shia mosque was linked to the attack on the Sunni mosque in Friday

At least nine people have been killed in a suicide bomb attack on a Shia mosque in Baghdad, Iraqi officials say.

The attacker detonated his explosive vest during noon prayers in the south-eastern area of New Baghdad.

It comes days after Shia militiamen were accused of killing some 70 people at a Sunni mosque to the north-east.

Sectarian tensions in Iraq have been heightened by the seizure of large swathes of the country by Islamic State (IS) militants and allied Sunni rebels.

They are believed to have hindered efforts by prime minister-designate Haider al-Abadi to form a new unity government.

At his first news conference since accepting the nomination, Mr Abadi said he was worried about the heavily armed Shia militiamen mobilised by his predecessor roaming the streets of Iraq unsupervised.

"I consider it very dangerous," he said. "They should be operating within the framework and context of the state and under the control of the army and security forces."


The cities of Karbala and al-Hillah, both south of the capital, were also reportedly hit by a series of car bombings on Monday.

At least 23 people were killed and dozens more wounded in three separate back-to-back attacks, according to the Associated Press.

Separately, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned the "appalling, widespread" crimes being committed by IS fighters in Iraq.

They include targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, trafficking, slavery, sexual abuse, destruction of places of religious and cultural significance, and the besieging of entire communities.

"They are systematically targeting men, women and children based on their ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation and are ruthlessly carrying out widespread ethnic and religious cleansing in the areas under their control," Ms Pillay said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Dozens of people were also wounded by the blast at the Shia mosque in New Baghdad
Image copyright AFP
Image caption IS militants tried to capture Iraq's largest oil refinery on Sunday
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Prime minister-designate Haider al-Abadi said there was no place for armed groups outside of state control

Among those affected have been Christians, Yezidis, Shabaks, Turkomen, Kakai and Sabaeans.

Ms Pillay said the killing of up to 670 prisoners from a prison in the northern city of Mosul - seized by IS on 10 June - might amount to a war crime and a crime against humanity.

Violence across the country has intensified since the jihadist group declared an Islamic state, or caliphate, in the territory under its control in both Iraq and Syria.

Since 8 August, the US has supported Iraqi and Kurdish troops tackling IS and its allies by conducting air strikes, helping them to regain control of the strategically important Mosul dam.

Iraqi forces also managed to push back an IS offensive on the country's largest oil refinery on Sunday.

The Baiji refinery is an attractive target, as it produces about a third of Iraq's oil output.

Who are Islamic State (IS)?

  • Formed out of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in 2013, IS first captured Raqqa in eastern Syria
  • By early 2014 it controlled Falluja in western Iraq
  • Has since captured broad swathes of Iraq, seizing the northern city of Mosul in June
  • Fighting has displaced at least 1.2 million Iraqis
  • Pursuing an extreme form of Sunni Islam, IS has persecuted non-Muslims such as Yazidis and Christians, as well as Shia Muslims, whom it regards as heretics
  • In July alone, IS expanded dramatically, recruiting some 6,300 new fighters largely in Raqqa, an activist monitoring group said

IS presence in Iraq and Syria

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