A suicide bombing in Baghdad has killed at least 25 people. The attack, which appears to have been targeted at the Shiite community, is the country’s deadliest in four months and comes at a sensitive time.
The suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives outside the office of a Shiite Muslim religious foundation in the central Bab al-Muadham district on Monday.
"It was a powerful explosion, dust and smoke covered the area. At first I couldn't see anything, but then I heard screaming women and children," policeman Ahmed Hassan told the news agency Reuters.
The apparent target of the blast, the Shiite Endowment, is a body that manages Shiite cultural and religious sites. The foundation has recently been in dispute with the rival Sunni Endowment over control of a Shiite shrine in the city of Samarra.
There were unconfirmed reports that mortars had been fired at the Sunni Endowment.
The bombing comes at a tricky time politically, with fractious Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish parliamentary power groupings locked in a crisis that threatens power-sharing deal arrangements.
Last week, a truck bombing killed at least 17 people and put an end to weeks of relative calm - prompting fears of a return to the kind of sectarian tension that racked the country between 2006 and 2008.
Tensions have heightened since American forces left in December, nine years after the invasion. Critics of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki say he is in the process of hoarding power for his own faction and are threatening a vote of no confidence against him.
rc / jlw (AFP, Reuters)