At least 23 people have been killed in a suicide bomb attack on the funeral for a member of an ethnic minority in Iraq's northern province of Nineveh, officials say.

Police said the attacker set off an explosive belt inside a funeral near the city of Mosul on Saturday afternoon. More than 20 people were injured.

Mourners were paying respects to the man, a member of the Shabak minority, who had died of natural causes, officials said.

The Shabaks are ethnic Turkomen. Most of the 30,000-strong Shabak community lives in villages east of Mosul, the provincial capital of the ethnically mixed Nineveh province that is predominantly Sunni Muslim.

They speak a distinct language and largely follow a faith that is a blend of Shia Islam and local beliefs. They have in the past been targeted by armed groups, warning them to leave the area.

"I was attending the funeral sitting with the women when we heard a huge explosion," said Umm Mohammed, who was at the funeral.

"When we went out, we found some men either killed or injured," she said.

Nationwide violence

Iraq has experienced a surge of violence in recent months, against the backdrop of rising tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

More than 4,000 people have been killed so far this year.

On Friday, 30 people died in blasts at a mosque on the outskirts of the city of Baquba. Security officials said a bomb was hidden inside an air conditioner unit placed in the window of the mosque.

A roadside bomb also killed two soldiers and wounded two others in the northern city of Mosul, while gunmen shot and killed Khalaf Hameed, a local municipal official in the nearby Shora district, authorities said.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies