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Fresh blasts hit Shi’ite mosques as Maliki plans security overhaul

Published: Updated:

New bombings have targeted two Shi’ite mosques in the Iraqi city of Al-Hila, located south of Baghdad, as the country’s Prime Minister vowed to overhaul security strategy in the country on Monday.

Bombings at the two Shi’ite mosques killed six people, police and a doctor said, the latest in a string of attacks targeting both Sunni and Shi’ite places of worship in Iraq.

One bomb exploded inside Al-Wardiyah mosque, while a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged belt at Al-Graita mosque nearby, the sources said.

Both blasts, which also wounded 70 people, occurred during evening prayers.

Maliki said Monday he will overhaul Iraq’s security strategy as a two-day wave of violence killed 72 people including 24 police, bringing the month’s death toll from unrest to 349.

“We are about to make changes in the high and middle positions of those responsible for security, and the security strategy,” AFP reported Maliki as saying at a news conference in Baghdad.

“We will discuss this matter in the cabinet session tomorrow (Tuesday) to take decisions,” Maliki said, without providing further details.

“I assure the Iraqi people that they (militants) will not be able to return us to the sectarian conflict” that killed tens of thousands of people in Iraq in past years, he added.

Deadly violence continues

At least 43 people were killed in car bomb explosions targeting Shiite Muslims in the Iraqi capital and the southern oil hub of Basra on Monday, police and medics told Reuters news agency.

About 150 people have been killed in sectarian violence over the past week and tensions between Shiites and minority Sunni Muslims have reached their highest level since U.S. troops pulled out in December 2011.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Nine people were killed in one of two car bomb explosions in Basra, a predominantly Shi'ite city 20 km southeast of Baghdad, police and medics said.

Five other people were killed in a second blast inside a bus terminal in Saad Square, also in Basra, police and medics told Reuters.

In Baghdad, a parked car exploded in a busy market in the mainly Shiite eastern district of Kamaliya, killing seven people, police said.

Also in Baghdad a car bomb exploded near a bus that was carrying Iranian pilgrims to Samarra, it killed 8 people, according to a local official and the Iraqi police.

Samarra is a Shiite shrine and was bombed in February 2006, which according to AFP unleashed a wave of sectarian bloodletting.

A further 22 people were killed in blasts in Ilaam, Diyala Bridge, al-Shurta, Shula and Sadr City - all areas with a high concentration of Shiites.

Meanwhile, police and doctors told AFP news agency on Monday that attempted hostage rescue and two assaults by gunmen on police stations killed 24 policemen in Iraq's restive Anbar province overnight.

Twelve kidnapped police died and four were wounded during a raid that aimed to free them, while gunmen killed 12 more in assaults on two police stations in Anbar, the sources said.