AFP
Last updated: 19 May, 2013

Iraq PM calls for joint Sunni-Shiite prayers after attacks

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called on Sunday for joint Sunni-Shiite prayers after a spate of attacks on places of worship, saying the attackers wanted to ignite sectarian strife in Iraq.

“I call for holding joint prayers… in one of the large Baghdad mosques” each Friday, Maliki said in a statement.

“Those who target mosques are enemies of Sunnis and Shiites alike, and are planning to ignite (sectarian) strife,” he said.

Bombs near the Saria Sunni mosque in Baquba, north of Baghdad, killed 41 people on Friday, a day after a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged belt at the entrance of Al-Zahraa husseiniyah, a Shiite place of worship in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing 12 people.

Tensions are festering between the government of Maliki, a Shiite, and Iraqi Sunnis who accuse authorities of marginalising and 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.

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