BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A suicide bomber posing as a beggar detonated his explosives inside a major Baghdad Sunni mosque on Sunday, killing at least 24 people, including an Iraqi lawmaker, just as they finished evening prayers, hospital and local officials said.
The bomber wearing a cast on his arm blew himself up in the main hall of the Umm al-Qura mosque, an important Sunni religious site in Baghdad and one frequented by top Iraqi Sunni leaders in the capital’s western Ghazaliya district.
Attacks on Sunni and Shi’ite mosques are especially sensitive in Iraq where a power-sharing government still struggles to overcome the sectarian slaughter that dragged Iraq to the edge of civil war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
“The suicide bomber entered pretending he was hurt. He entered the main prayer area. We started to get suspicious. But when the prayers finished, he blew himself up,” said Ahmed Abdul Razaq, who was at the mosque.
Violence in Iraq has dropped sharply since the height of sectarian bloodletting four years ago, but both Sunni Islamists linked to al-Qaeda and Shi’ite militias still carry out almost daily attacks as