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Three Sunni mosques bombed in Iraq

In Baghdad, protesters organized by influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, called for the severing of diplomatic ties with Riyadh.

After years of violent armed struggles between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, the government seems eager to defuse the situation and prevent Shiite militias from attacking Sunni communities or institutions.

Bilateral relations between the two countries have been on the mend after Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi came to power in 2014.

One of the targets of the attack was the Ammar bin Yasser mosque in the Bakerli neighborhood of Hilla.

Reports also suggested Saudi Arabia was strengthening security at its embassy in Lebanon over fears of retaliation from Shi’ite groups.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts, nor for the killing near the town of Iskandariyah, about 40 kilometres south of Baghdad.

Thousands of people have protested in a number of cities across Iraq to express their condemnation of the recent execution of a prominent Shia cleric in Saudi Arabia. Bahrain, the Shi’ite-majority Gulf state ruled by a Sunni family, and Sudan followed suit on Monday. “We have leads and security measures will be taken near mosques”, said Khafaji, pledging to rebuild the buildings.

Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Iraq has been fraught with tension since 1990 when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

Recently, the Saudi ambassador choice in Iraq wrote in a post on his personal page in a social network that he is in full security supported by the Iraqi government.

In Baghdad on Monday, demonstrators carrying portraits of Nimr rallied outside the Green Zone, a heavily fortified district that houses government departments and diplomatic representations, including the newly reopened Saudi embassy.

Similar demonstrations were also held in Basra, Karbala and Najaf.

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