Iraq bombs target worshippers, killing at least 16

The attacks included a suicide bombing at a funeral, and are the latest in a growing wave of violence

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The Independent Online

At least 16 people have died after two bombs exploded in the Baghdad area of Iraq, targeting a funeral and a group of praying Sunni Muslims.

Police said one of the blasts killed at least 13 and wounded another 35 as they gathered at the gates of the Khalid bin al-Walid mosque in the capital.

The attack took place at about 10pm local time, just after worshippers had joined in special prayers and broken their fast for the holy month of Ramadan.

In separate attack yesterday a suicide bomber blew himself up at a funeral in the town of al-Abbara, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Officials said three mourners were killed, and another 10 were wounded.

Iraq is currently undergoing its worst escalation of violence in half a decade, amid fears the country is heading back towards the kind of widespread sectarian fighting that peaked in 2006 and 2007.

More than 2,600 people have been killed since the start of April, as Sunni Muslims protest against what they perceive to be unfair treatment at the hands of the Shiite-led government.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the most recent wave of attacks, and while Shiite militias could be to blame there was also speculation bombing the mosque was a ploy from Sunni extremist to incite a sectarian backlash against Shiites.

Earlier on Saturday officials in Kirkuk, an ethnically diverse and oil-rich city that is a flashpoint for tensions, ordered all cafes to be temporarily shut down a day after a suicide attack killed at least 39 people.

Kirkuk police chief Major General Jamal Tahir said his officers could not guarantee the security of patrons at the dozens of teahouses and coffee shops scattered across the city. They did not say when businesses would be allowed to reopen.