Last updated: 16 May, 2013

Suicide bombing against Iraqi Shiites kills at least 12

A suicide bomber attacked Shiite mourners in north Iraq Thursday, killing 12 people, and 13 died in other violence, officials said, as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki blamed sectarianism for unrest plaguing the country.

The suicide bomber tried to enter Al-Zahraa husseiniyah, a Shiite place of worship in the city of Kirkuk, where relatives of victims from violence the day before were receiving condolences.

But the attacker was stopped by police, a high-ranking police officer said.

The bomber then detonated an explosives-rigged belt at the entrance, killing 12 people and wounding 40, according to Sadiq Omar Rasul, the head of the Kirkuk health directorate.

Bombings had killed 10 people and wounded 17 in the city on Wednesday.

The attack on the husseiniyah in Kirkuk was the latest in a wave of assaults targeting both Sunni and Shiite places of worship, which have fuelled already significant sectarian tensions.

And in Mosul, also in the north, a suicide bomber driving an explosives-rigged vehicle killed two soldiers and wounded three, while a car bomb wounded two police and three civilians.

In the capital, car bombs hit the Shiite-majority Kamaliyah, Sadr City and Chikouk areas, killing 10 people and wounding 30, officials said, a day after 21 died in a spate of bombings in Baghdad that were mainly in Shiite areas.

Gunmen also shot dead the brother of a Sunni MP in the Bayaa area of the capital on Thursday.

With the latest attacks, 75 people have been killed in three days of violence in Iraq, and 189 have died in unrest so far this month, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.

The attacks came as Maliki blamed sectarianism for violence in the country.

“The bloodshed… is a result of sectarian hatred,” Maliki said in televised remarks. “These crimes are a natural result of the sectarian mindset.”

Tensions are festering between the government of Maliki, a Shiite, and members of the Sunni minority who accuse authorities of targeting their community, including through wrongful detentions and accusations of involvement in terrorism.

Protests broke out in Sunni areas of Iraq almost five months ago.

While the government has made some concessions, such as freeing prisoners and raising the salaries of Sunni anti-Al-Qaeda fighters, underlying issues have not been addressed.

On April 23, security forces moved on protesters near the town of Hawijah in Kirkuk province, sparking clashes that killed 53 people.

Dozens more died in subsequent unrest that included revenge attacks on security forces, raising fears of a return to the all-out sectarian conflict that claimed tens of thousands of lives between 2006 and 2008.

Violence in Iraq has fallen from its peak, but attacks are still common, killing more than 200 people in each of the first four months of this year, including more than 460 in April, according to AFP figures.