News / Middle East

Dozens Die in Attack on Sunni Mosque in Iraq

FILE - Volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against Sunni militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), carry weapons during a parade in the city of Baquba, June 23, 2014.
FILE - Volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against Sunni militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), carry weapons during a parade in the city of Baquba, June 23, 2014.
Edward Yeranian

Dozens of people were killed in an attack on a Sunni mosque in Iraq's Diyala Province during Friday prayers. Sunni religious authorities are blaming Shi'ite militiamen for the attack, while government military commanders are blaming Islamic State militants. The attack threatens to undercut Iraqi government attempts to forge a unified front against the extremist group.

It was a brutal attack, which began when a suicide bomber blew himself up during Friday prayers, followed by gunmen storming the mosque to kill survivors. The attack took place in the government controlled village of Bani Wais in Diyala Province, north of Baghdad.

Jalawla, IraqJalawla, Iraq
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Jalawla, Iraq
Jalawla, Iraq

Eyewitnesses and Sunni religious officials are accusing members of a hardline Shi'ite militia of the crime. Government military commanders, however, are pinning the blame on Islamic State militants. The hospital in the nearby town of Baquba reported that it received 68 bodies from the attack in its morgue.

Doctors at the hospital told Arab media they fear an attack on their facility by militiamen attempting to kill survivors being treated on the premises. Asharqiya TV reported an Iranian-trained Shi'ite militia was responsible.

Diyala Province Governor Amr Mujamai refused to specify who was behind the crime, but complained that government forces are not in control of large parts of the province:

"The central government is silent about what took place. It was a cold-blooded crime and security forces are not in control. They should react and respond to criminal behavior," said Mujamai.

A top Iraqi Sunni cleric, Sheikh Mahmoud Abdel Aziz al Ani, called on Sunnis to “unite to combat the injustices they are facing.” He went on to denounce the mosque attack.

"Blood was spilled in a house of worship. Shi'ite militants were the perpetrators of  the crime. Anyone who would do such a thing is an infidel," said al Ani.

Nahida al Zaini, who represents Diyala Province in the Iraqi parliament accused Iraqi officials of doing little to prevent such crimes:

"The Iraqi central government is doing nothing to punish criminals who commit such crimes and several other recent [militia] killings have gone unpunished," said al Zani.

Several prominent Sunni politicians called for a stop in negotiations to form a new government . Sunni Parliament Speaker Selim al Jabouri indicated he would set up a committee to investigate Friday's killings.

Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Abdel Mehdi al Karbalai, who represents Iraq's revered Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, told worshipers in Najaf that a “new government must be formed on a solid base, correcting cumulative errors of the past and restoring rights [to those who have had them taken away].”

Iraqi Sunnis have felt increasingly disenfranchised under the country's Shi'ite majority leadership.

  • Peshmerga fighters at Mosul Dam in northern Iraq, Aug. 21, 2014.
  • Peshmerga fighters stand guard at Mosul Dam, Aug. 21, 2014.
  • Peshmerga fighters in vehicles with Kurdish flags guard Mosul Dam, Aug. 21, 2014.
  • A checkpoint destroyed by a U.S. air strike near Mosul Dam, northern Iraq, Aug. 21, 2014.
  • The wreckage of a car belonging to Islamic State militants lies along a road after it was destroyed by a U.S. air strike near the entrance to Mosul Dam, Aug. 21, 2014.
  • Destroyed houses near Mosul Dam, Aug.21, 2014.
  • A crater at the entrance of Mosul Dam, Aug. 21, 2014.
  • A displaced family from the minority Yazidi sect walks towards the entrance of Mosul, Aug. 21, 2014.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Philip Smeeton from: Norway
August 23, 2014 5:06 AM
The strategy of the leading practitioners of the ideology of Islam, is to increase the level of conflict between Islam and the free world. So as to involve as many Muslims as possible in Jihad. According to Mohammed the aim of Islam is to force every other system of belief to submit to it. In other words that the world should be entirely Muslim, ruled by Sharia.

by: BK from: usa
August 22, 2014 9:18 PM
are these the scumbags that we support..?? are these the scumbags that we are arming..?? what is the difference between these scumbags and the Iranian Hizbullah scumbags..?? are we arming the Hizbullah..??

by: meanbill from: USA
August 22, 2014 6:30 PM
I do believe most of the Sunni Muslim Caliphs, and Shia Muslim Imams, were killed (assassinated) in mosques.... and to this day, the Muslim religious leaders are still most likely to be killed in, or coming from, or going to a mosque....

by: mary balli from: Salem oregon
August 22, 2014 4:32 PM
I feel like you cant pray. I'm crying for those people

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