A suicide bomber disguised as a mourner has killed dozens of people in a packed funeral at a Shiite mosque in Iraq. It is the deadliest attack in six months.
The attack killed at least 40 people on Wednesday at the Saif al-Shuhada mosque in the city of Tuz Khurmato, during a ceremony for a Shiite ethnic Turkman. The violence comes as political pressure mounts on Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki after over a month of opposition protests in Sunni-majority areas.
The bomber, wearing a suit, mingled with guests before setting off the blast, police said. Eighty people were reportedly injured.
"Corpses are on the ground of the Husseiniyah [Shiite mosque]," said Tuz Khurmato Mayor Shallal Abdul. "The suicide bomber managed to enter and blow himself up in the middle of the mourners."
Survivors packed the injured and dead, wrapped in carpets, into trucks and cars to rush them to the hospital.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack in the religiously and ethnically mixed city, which lies 170 km (105 miles) north of the capital Baghdad.
Two local officials, including a deputy governor of the province of Salaheddin, were killed in the bombing.
Officials and tribal leaders, including the deputy chief of the Iraqi Turkman Front and provincial councilor in Salaheddin, Ali Hashem Oghlu, were among those injured. The funeral was for Oghlu's brother-in-law.
Wednesday's attack was the deadliest since a series of bombings north of Baghdad on July 23 killed 42 people. It is also the fourth suicide bombing in Iraq in a week.
Sunni protests broke out in December after authorities arrested the bodyguards of a Sunni finance minister on charges of terrorism. Sunni leaders said the arrest was part of a crackdown on their sect by the Shiite-led government.
A Shiite-majority government rose to power in Iraq after the ousting of former dictator Saddam Hussein by a 2003 US-led military invasion. Since then, many Sunnis in the country say they feel they have been marginalized.
dr/jr (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)