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Iraq official blames IS for bombing Sunni mosques

Groups of men wearing military uniforms bombed two Sunni mosques overnight in the Hilla region, south of Baghdad, and a muezzin was shot dead near his home in Iskandariyah, the sources said.

The Ammar bin Yasser mosque, located in Bakerli neighborhood, was attacked just after midnight.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi confirmed that the attacks on Sunni mosques in the city of Hilla, in Iraq’s Babil governorate took place on Sunday night.

Iraqi Shi’ites protesting the January 2 execution of Saudi Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr separately marched in Baghdad and in southern cities, calling for a boycott of Saudi products and severing ties with the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

Falah al-Khafaji, a provincial council member, and a police source said that a guard inside the building had been killed.

“After we heard the explosion, we went to its source and found that IEDs (improvised explosive devices) had been planted in the mosque”, the captain said.

Another group detonated bombs at a mosque in the village of Sinjar, just north of Hilla, and at a third mosque in the town of Iskandriyah, some 50 km north of Hilla, the source said. Shiite politicians and clerics unanimously condemned the execution but several religious figures in the Sunni minority also denounced it. “We ordered Babil operations command to hunt down the criminal gangs of Daesh (IS) and their likes who targeted mosques to sow sedition and undermine national unity”, Abadi said on Twitter.

The spark for Sunday’s attacks appears to have been Nimr’s execution a day earlier, which triggered angry reactions in Shi’ite-ruled Iraq and Iran.

Another demonstration called by prominent cleric and militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr was due to be held later Monday.

“Iraq cares for the security of embassies and diplomatic missions, and cherishes its relations with Saudi Arabia”, the spokesman added.

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