BEIRUT

Middle East

Suicide attacks kill at least 17 in Iraq after mosque shooting

In this Friday, April 26, 2013 file photo, masked Sunni protesters wave Islamist flags while others chant slogans at an anti-government rally in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo/Bilal Fawzi, File)

BAGHDAD: Two suicide bombers in Iraq killed at least 17 people in apparent revenge attacks after a major assault on a Sunni mosque heightened sectarian tensions.

In Baghdad, a bomber rammed a vehicle into an intelligence headquarters Saturday, killing at least eight people, police and medical sources said. Near Tikrit, a suicide bomber driving a military Humvee packed with explosives attacked a gathering of soldiers and Shiite militias on Friday night, killing nine.

Shiite militiamen machinegunned 68 worshipers at a village mosque in Diyala Province Friday as politicians try to form a power-sharing government capable of countering Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria militants.

An advance by ISIS through northern Iraq has alarmed the Baghdad government and its Western allies and drawn U.S. airstrikes in Iraq for the first time since the withdrawal of American troops in 2011.

Although the air campaign has caused a few setbacks for ISIS, they do not address the far broader problem of sectarian warfare which the group has fueled with attacks on Shiites.

Bombings, kidnappings and execution-style shootings occur almost daily, echoing the dark days of 2006-2007, the peak of a sectarian civil war.

Two of Iraq's most influential Sunni politicians suspended participation in talks on forming a new government after the militiamen carried out the mosque attack.

Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Mutlaq and Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jibouri have pulled out of talks with the main Shiite alliance until the results of an investigation into the killings are announced.

Jibouri, a moderate Sunni, condemned both ISIS as well as the Iranian-trained Shiite militias who Sunnis say kidnap and kill members of their sect with impunity.

"We will not allow them to exploit disturbed security in the country to undermine the political process. We believe the political process should move on," he told a news conference Saturday.

Iraq's new Shiite prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, faces the daunting task of trying to draw Sunnis into politics after they were sidelined by his predecessor NOuri al-Maliki.

Maliki stepped aside after pressure from Sunnis, Kurds, some fellow Shiites, Iran and the United States.

Iran, a regional power broker with deep influence in Iraq, is sending its foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to Baghdad on Sunday for talks with Iraqi officials.

 

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