Iraq: Civilians killed in Baghdad blast at Shia mosque

The explosion took place during Friday noon prayers inside Imam Mahdi al-Muntadhar mosque in al-Baladiyat neighbourhood.

    Iraq: Civilians killed in Baghdad blast at Shia mosque
    Security forces deployed at the scene cordoned off the site [Khalid Al-Mousily/Reuters]

    Several people have been killed in a blast at a Shia Muslim mosque in Iraq's capital, Baghdad, according to police and security sources.

    The explosion hit the Imam Mahdi al-Muntadhar mosque in Baladiyat neighbourhood during Friday prayers, near the massive and densely-populated district of Sadr City.

    The attacker was wearing an explosive-laden belt targetting the mosque, Police Captain Ahmed Khalaf told Anadolu Agency.

    He said 10 people were killed and dozens wounded, while other news agencies' reports quoting unidentified security sources put the death toll to at least seven.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

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    Iraq has witnessed a rare period of relative calm in recent months after decades of back-to-back conflict, including years of sectarian violence that regularly saw dozens killed in explosions in Baghdad.

    In 2017, Iraq declared victory against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group, which had also carried out mass attacks against civilians in the capital.

    The improved security situation has led officials to dismantle the concrete blast walls, barbed wire and checkpoints that had become ubiquitous in Baghdad.

    But occasional hit-and-run attacks have continued.

    Last month, at least eight people were killed and 15 wounded in a suicide bombing at a market in eastern Baghdad.

    In November, explosions in several Shia-majority districts killed six people, most of them civilians.

    SOURCE: News agencies