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Funeral bombing, other attacks kill at least 25 in Iraq

A suicide bomber attacked a funeral Saturday in northern Iraq attended by members of an ethnic minority, one of a string of attacks that left at least 25 people dead across the country, officials said.

Iraq is weathering its deadliest bout of violence in half a decade, raising fears that the country is returning to a period of widespread killing like that which pushed it to the brink of civil war after the 2003 United States-led invasion. More than 4,000 people have been killed in violent attacks since the start of April, including 804 in August, according to U.N. figures.

In the suicide attack, the bomber detonated his explosive belt inside a tent during the afternoon ceremony held by members of the Shabak minority in the village of Arto Kharab, near Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.

Authorities said the blast killed at least 20 people and wounded 35. The funeral was for a member of the Shabak minority who had died of natural causes, officials said.

The Shabaks are ethnic Turkmens and Shiite Muslims. Most of them live in villages east of Mosul, the provincial capital of the ethnically mixed but predominantly Sunni Muslim province of Nin­eveh.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the funeral attack, but Mosul has been a hub for al-Qaeda in Iraq in past years. Militants have used violence and intimidation to drive hundreds of members of minority groups out of the city.

Al-Qaeda’s local branch, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has claimed responsibility for a number of large-scale bombings in recent months and is thought to be behind other coordinated attacks.

The months-long surge of bloodshed is taking place against a backdrop of rising tensions between Iraq’s Sunni and Shiite Muslims. The tensions are being inflamed in part by the sectarian divisions reflected in the civil war in neighboring Syria.

In other violence Saturday, police said a roadside bomb hit a car in Dujail, a town just north of the capital, killing the driver and his wife. Police also said an 11-year-old boy was killed when a bomb hit a minibus traveling on a road near the town of Suleiman Beg, about 95 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Gunmen also stormed a tile factory in eastern Baghdad, killing the factory owner and a worker, police said.

Officials in nearby hospitals confirmed the death tolls. All officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.

— Associated Press


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