Seven killed in Iraq after deadly mosque attack

AFP , Friday 29 Apr 2011

A Sunni imam's family and four Sunni brothers were killed in separate incidents in central Iraq on Friday, hours after a suicide bomber killed 10 Shiite worshipers in a nearby mosque


The violence in restive Diyala province comes with months to go before US troops must withdraw, and as a series of American officials visited Baghdad to press for a decision on whether its leadership wants an extended US military presence.


Early on Friday, gunmen killed Basheer Mutlak, the imam of the Al-Sumaidaie mosque in the village of Imam Waiss, and his wife and his daughter in their home, an Iraqi army colonel in the Diyala security command centre said.
"All of them were killed by bullets," said Ahmed Alwan, a doctor at the main hospital in provincial capital Baquba. He said Mutlak was 52, his wife 42 and their daughter 11.


In a separate incident in the town of Buhruz, also in Diyala, four Sunni brothers aged between 20 and 35 were shot dead by gunmen wearing police uniforms, according to an army officer who asked not to be identified.
Three of the brothers -- Raad, Johar and Hussein Khalif Hamid al-Zaidi -- were members of an anti-Qaeda tribal militia known as the Sahwa, while the youngest brother Alaa was not, according to officials in Baquba's morgue, and local Sahwa leaders.


Groups of Sunni tribes turned against Al-Qaeda and sided with the US military from late 2006, marking a key turning point in the insurgency.


The attackers stormed the family's home at about 4:00 am (0100 GMT), separated the men from their wives, sisters and mother, gathered them in a room and shot them dead before fleeing the scene.
Friday's violence came just hours after a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of Shiite worshippers in the town of Baladruz, killing 10 and wounding 30, according to a colonel in Diyala operations command and a doctor at the town's hospital.


All of the casualties from Thursday's blast, which occurred at around 8:15 pm (1715 GMT), were men.


The attacks raise the spectre of renewed sectarian violence in Iraq, which suffered from widespread intercommunal bloodshed in 2006 and 2007 that left tens of thousands dead.
Violence has declined dramatically since then, but attacks remain common, especially in Diyala.


Also on Friday, gunmen killed tribal chief Mutashar al-Aghaidi near his home in Iraq's main northern city of Mosul just after midday, a police source in Mosul said.

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