Two car bombs exploded outside the home of a community leader near the northern city of Mosul on Monday, killing at least 20 people and injuring another 20, hospital and police officials said.

The explosions took place in the town of Tal Afar, 80km west of Mosul, said Khesro Goran, Mosul's deputy governor.

Brigadier General Wathiq Mohammed, Mosul's deputy police chief, and Tal Afar General Hospital director Saleh Qaddo Haider, both said at least 20 people were killed. Mohammed said at least 20 were injured.

According to Goran and Mohammed, the attack reportedly targeted Hassan Baktash, a Shia with close ties to Massoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party, of which Goran was also a member.

"Two car bombs went off this evening targeting one of Tal Afar's dignitaries, the first car hit Hassan Baktash's house from the front side, killing and injuring some people near the house, and a few minutes later, the second bomber detonated his car when more people gathered to help the wounded. 

Car bombs targeted Iraqi
functionaries (File photo)

"At least 20 civilians were killed and another 20 were wounded," Mohammed said.

"I don't have a final death toll because the hospital is still receiving casualties, but so far we have received more than 20 killed," Haider said.

Goran said he thought Baktash was targeted because of his family's prominence and political connections.

"I don't know if he was killed. I believe that this family was attacked because they are loyal to the Kurds and because they are Shias. Many members of this family are KDP officials."

Mosque bomb

Also on Monday, a car bomber blew himself up outside a Shia mosque shortly before evening prayers in a town south of Baghdad, killing at least 10 people and injuring another 30.

The explosion occurred at 1600 GMT in front of the Abul-Fadl Abbas mosque in Mahmudiya, about 30km south of Baghdad, Lieutenant Odai al-Zayadi said.

Dawoud al-Tai, director of the Mahmudiya General Hospital, said 10 dead people and 30 injured were brought to his facility.

Worshippers targeted

"The remains of the suicide attacker are still at the scene. His scalp and the part of his hand are there"

Bassem Abboud,
Mahmudiya bombing witness

"We have transferred some of the critically wounded people to the Yarmuk hospital in Baghdad," al-Tai said.

The bomb exploded at about the time worshippers would go to a mosque for sunset prayers. Shia mosques often have been targeted by bombers.

Iraqi soldier Alaa Abdul-Mohsen said the attack was carried out by a bomber who attempted to drive his explosives-packed car into the mosque.

But a sand barrier protecting the mosque prevented him from reaching the building, and he instead rammed his car into an adjacent house and detonated it.

Witness Bassem Abboud said he drove five critically injured people to the hospital but four died on the way.

"I was walking in the neighbourhood when the explosion occurred. The remains of the suicide attacker are still at the scene. His scalp and the part of his hand are there," Abboud said.