Four dead and 50 wounded in attacks on Baghdad Sunni mosques
Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Four Sunni mosques were attacked in and around Baghdad today, killing four people and wounding 50. Striking on Friday when mosques are full for the weekly prayer, bombs exploded inside the Al-Kubaisi mosque in south Baghdad, killing four people and wounding 36; near the Al-Shaheed Yusif and Malik al-Ashtar mosques in the north of the capital, wounding at least 11; and near the Al-Razzaq mosque, also north of Baghdad, wounding at least three people.
These attacks come as Sunnis-Shia tensions have been on the rise in recent days. Sunnis clashed Tuesday with the army after anti-government gunmen seized the Sunni town of Suleiman Beg following clashes with Iraqi security forces.
In Mosul, more people were killed and injured in clashes overnight, after gunmen reportedly seized western parts of the city using a mosque loudspeaker to rally Sunnis to join the battle.
Since then, Suleiman Beg is still in the hands of Sunni gunmen, but the army was able to regain control of Mosul.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shia, has called for calm, urging Iraqis to stand up against extremists. "If [sectarian] conflict erupts, there will be no winner or loser," Mr Maliki said in a televised address. "All will lose, whether in southern or northern or western or eastern Iraq."
Al-Maliki's government has been accused of discriminating against Sunnis, who under Saddam Hussein occupied the most prominent positions of power. For its part, Baghdad has accused foreign extremists of stirring sectarian confrontation.
Control over Kirkuk is another cause of tensions. Kurds want to incorporate the oil-rich city into their largely autonomous region, whilst Al-Maliki wants to run things from Baghdad.
Meanwhile, Iraqis are awaiting the results of provincial polls held on 20 April, the first elections since the final US troops withdrawal.
The period leading up to the poll saw widespread violence. Dozens of people were killed in bombings targeting mainly Shia areas last week, and 14 candidates, most of them Sunnis, were murdered.
However, the government said that elections in the Sunni-dominated provinces of Anbar and Nineveh would be delayed until 4 July.