A suicide car bomber blew himself up outside a Shiite mosque in northern Iraq after Friday prayers, killing 11 people and wounding more than 20 others, the latest deadly attack in a three-day wave of violence that has rocked the country, police said.
The bomb at the mosque in Tuz Khurmato, a mixed Sunni and Shiite town about 180 miles north of Baghdad in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, exploded just as worshipers were coming out from prayers on the Muslim holy day.
"The suicide attacker was able to drive his car until he reached a point very close to the mosque's entrance and detonated himself," said city police chief, Col. Abbas Muhammed Amin. Tuz Khurmato, an ethnically diverse city, had been relatively quiet for the past two months, but earlier this summer it experienced two weeks of deadly car bomb attacks that killed more than 70 Iraqis.
Militants have frequently attacked Shiite mosques during the past 18 months in what analysts say is an attempt to goad Iraq's Shiite majority into a civil war with the country's Sunni Arab minority, which used to be dominant in Iraq under Saddam Hussein.
About 200 people have been killed in the strife-torn country during the past three days in a series of suicide bombs and other deadly attacks. Wednesday marked Baghdad's deadliest day since the U.S.-led invasion of the country two years ago when 160 people died and scores of others were wounded in a wave of suicide bombings.
Just moments after the car bomb exploded in Tuz Khurmato, Iraqi police and Kurdish security forces arrested a suicide attacker who had failed to detonate his bombs, Col. Amin said. The attacker, believed to be a Saudi apparently working with the suicide car bomber, was wearing an belt full of explosives, he said.
Meanwhile in Baghdad, gunmen shot dead two laborers and a government official in drive-by shootings, according to the Associated Press. The news agency reported that police said the gunmen, traveling in two cars, opened fire on a group of men near the Shiite area of Sadr City as they lined up to find jobs. Minutes later, they shot and killed a transport ministry official, the AP reported.
Elsewhere in Iraq, a suicide car bomb killed three Iraqi policemen and injured six in Babil province early Friday, according to police Capt. Muthanna Ahmed. The attack targeted a police convoy in Musayyib, 60 miles south of Baghdad.
And in Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of the capital, gunmen broke into Mayor Kamer Muhammed Khafaji's home shortly before dawn and shot him and four of his guards dead. Two other guards were injured in the attack, according to Capt. Ahmed.
In Mosul, 275 miles north of Baghdad, an aide to Iraq's most influential Shiite clerics was assassinated when a bomb exploded near his home as he was heading to a mosque for Friday prayers.
Sarhan reported from Najaf. Deane reported from Washington