Middle East

Iraq violence: Deadly bomb attack on Baquba mosque

Aftermath of bomb attack in Umm al-Adham, on the outskirts of Baquba (13 September 2013)
Image caption It was not clear who was behind the attack, the second in Baquba in three days

At least 30 people have been killed and 25 wounded in a bomb attack on a Sunni mosque on the outskirts of the central Iraqi city of Baquba, officials say.

Two bombs were detonated as worshippers left the al-Salam mosque after Friday prayers in the village of Umm al-Adham.

There have recently been several deadly attacks in Baquba, a religiously mixed city 60km (35 miles) north of Baghdad.

Sectarian violence has surged across the country in recent months, reaching its highest level since 2008.

More than 5,000 people have been killed so far this year, 800 of them in August alone, according to the United Nations.

Shia militia 'remobilising'

In Friday's attack, the bombs exploded outside the mosque in Umm al-Adham in quick succession at around 12:00 (09:00 GMT).

The first device targeted worshippers leaving the building, while the second was detonated as a crowd gathered at the scene to help.

The AFP news agency reported that both Sunnis and Shia had attended Friday prayers at the mosque.

It was not clear who was behind the attack, the second in Baquba in three days.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq has claimed responsibility for a number of large-scale bombings in recent months but it mainly targets Shia civilians, security forces personnel and government facilities.

But with the state unable to prevent such attacks, Shia militia are reportedly remobilising and warning that they are prepared to protect members of their sect.

The recent unrest was sparked by an army raid on a Sunni Arab anti-government protest camp near Hawija in April. The protesters were calling for the resignation of Shia Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and denouncing the authorities for allegedly targeting the minority Sunni community.

The country has also seen a spill-over of violence from the conflict in Syria, where jihadist rebels linked to the Islamic State of Iraq, a Sunni militant umbrella group that includes al-Qaeda, have risen to prominence.

In recent weeks, Iraqi security forces have reportedly arrested hundreds of alleged al-Qaeda members in and around Baghdad as part of a campaign the Shia-led government is calling "Revenge for the martyrs".

But the operations, which have taken place mostly in Sunni districts, have angered the Sunni community and failed to halt the violence.