Published April 12, 2013
BAGHDAD – A pair of bombs struck in quick succession outside a Sunni mosque north of Baghdad on Friday, killing at least 11 people and wounding more than 30.
The attacks in the town of Kanaan, about 47 miles northeast of the capital, are likely to increase fears of further violence ahead of provincial elections in much of the country scheduled for next week.
Friday's blasts struck as worshippers were leaving after midday prayers from the town's Omar Bin Abdul-Aziz mosque, said police officials in Diyala province, where Kanaan is located. A hospital official confirmed the casualty figures.
Violence in Iraq has fallen sharply from its peak in 2006 and 2007, but deadly attacks remain common a decade after the U.S.-led invasion.
The nearby city of Baqouba, the provincial capital, was the site of a large bombing last week. In that incident, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a lunch hosted by a Sunni candidate in the upcoming provincial elections, killing 20 people.
Minutes after the Kanaan attack, a bomb exploded near a Shiite mosque in western Baghdad, wounding eight, according to police and hospital officials.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday's attacks.
Al Qaeda's Iraqi branch, known as the Islamic State of Iraq, frequently carries out coordinated bombings targeting civilian targets such as mosques, markets and restaurants.
It primarily targets Shiites, whom it considers heretics, as well as security forces and other officials tied to Iraq's Shiite-led government.
But it has in the past also struck Sunni targets in an attempt to reignite the sectarian fighting that pushed the country to the brink of civil war in the years following the fall of Baghdad, a decade ago this week.
Iraqi officials believe Al Qaeda is growing stronger in Iraq, fueled in part by rising lawlessness on the Syria-Iraq frontier and what they say is cross-border cooperation with the Syrian militant group Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Nusra Front.