Suicide bombers struck Shiite worshippers as they gathered for prayers at two mosques in Baghdad to celebrate the Muslim Id al-Fitr feast yesterday, killing 16 people and wounding nearly 60, officials said.
For most of Iraq’s Shiites yesterday is the main day of Id, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. It is one of the Muslim calendar’s most festive days when families exchange gifts and dress in their finest to attend prayers and feasts.
A leg and other body parts could be seen more than 100m from where a bomber detonated a taxi after ramming it into a police vehicle guarding a Shiite prayer hall in the Zafaraniya district, a TV cameraman said at the scene.
Blood poured from a vegetable truck used to carry away the bodies and glass was shattered in surrounding buildings.
Baghdad security spokesman Major-General Qassim Moussawi said the Zafaraniya attack killed 10 people and wounded 31.
In the other strike, in the New Baghdad district, the bomber was a teenage boy, who was accosted by a member of the security forces before blowing himself up 80m from a mosque, killing six people and wounding 26, Moussawi said.
Both districts are Shiite areas in the east of the capital. The death tolls could rise, police said.
Suicide bombs — increasingly borne by women or teens — are the signature tactic of al-Qaeda and like-minded Sunni Arab militants who frequently target Shiite civilians during religious festivals.
Government officials had warned that militants might strike during the Id holiday, which Sunni Muslims began observing earlier in the week.
Unidentified gunmen killed six and injured three members of the same family in the restive Iraqi province of Diyala yesterday, a security source said.
The family of 10 was hailing a vehicle on a main road when the gunmen opened fire on them, a security source told Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency.
Diyala Province, 57km north-east of Baghdad, was the scene of a military crackdown in July aimed at flushing out members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
Yesterday’s strikes were the second major spate of attacks in recent days linked to Id. On Sunday evening four bombs killed at least 32 people in Baghdad, many of them out buying Id gifts in the busy Karrada shopping district.
The government has declared a six-day public holiday to cover sects who observe Id on different days.
Violence overall is at four-year lows and al-Qaeda militants no longer control large numbers of villages and city districts as they did until last year. But militant cells are still active and able to carry out bomb attacks.
Suicide bombers killed dozens of worshippers during Shiite pilgrimages in July and August this year.