Sunni Mosques Attacked a Day After ISIS Strikes Baghdad Mall

At least seven Sunni mosques and dozens of shops in eastern Iraq were firebombed on Tuesday.

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People gather at the site of a car bomb in New Baghdad on 11 January 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

At least seven Sunni mosques and dozens of shops in eastern Iraq were firebombed on Tuesday, security sources and local officials said. This attack comes a day after a bomb explosion conducted by ISIS outside al-Jawaher in Baghdad that claimed 18 lives.

Ten people were also shot at and killed in Muqdadiya, 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Baghdad, security and hospital sources said.

The attacks were in the central districts of Mualimeen, Asri and Orouba.

A surge in such violence could undermine efforts by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a moderate Shi’ite Islamist, to dislodge the militants from large swaths of the north and west that they seized in 2014.

At the height of Iraq’s civil war nearly a decade ago, such mosque attacks often unleashed revenge killings and counter attacks across the country.

Abdul Lateef al-Himayim, head of Iraq’s government body overseeing Sunni religious sites, called them “a desperate attempt to destroy Iraqi unity”.

Haqqi al-Jabouri, a member of the local council in Diyala province where Muqdadiya is located, said both types of attacks hurt the social fabric of the community. He blamed “undisciplined (Shi’ite) militias” for burning the mosques.

Shi’ite militias were critical in keeping Islamic State from overrunning Baghdad and southern Shi’ite shrines during their lightning advance across the Syrian border in 2014. They have also supported Iraqi forces pushing back the militants, including from parts of Diyala.

However, the militia elements have been accused of human rights abuses against Sunnis, allegations the groups have repeatedly denied or blamed on rogue members.

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