REUTERS - Iraqi Shi’ite militiamen machine gunned minority Sunni Muslims in a village mosque on Friday, killing dozens just as Baghdad was trying to build a cross-community government to fight Sunni militants whose rise has alarmed Western powers.
A morgue official in Diyala province north of Baghdad said 68 people had been killed in the sectarian attack staged on the Muslim day of prayer. Ambulances took the bodies 60 km (40 miles) to the provincial capital of Baquba, where Iranian-trained Shi’ite militias are powerful and act with impunity.
Attacks on mosques are acutely sensitive and have in the past unleashed a deadly series of revenge killings and counter attacks in Iraq, where violence has returned to the levels of 2006-2007, the peak of a sectarian civil war.
Two influential Sunni politicians, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq and Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jibouri, quickly suspended participation in talks with the main Shi’ite political alliance to form a new government.
Lawmaker Nahida al-Dayani, who is from Diyala, said about 150 worshippers were at Imam Wais mosque when the militiamen arrived following a roadside bombing which had targeted a security vehicle. “It is a new massacre,” said Dayani, a Sunni originally from the village where the attack happened.
The U.S. condemns the vicious attack today on innocent men, women, and children inside a mosque in Iraq. go.usa.gov/mbYe