Attack on Sunni mosque kills at least 70 in Iraq

A police officer said that local militants broke into the mosque and opened fire in Imam Wais village, wounding 35 others

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The death toll from a shooting attack by Shi'ite militia forces on a Sunni mosque in Iraq on Friday has reached 68, a morgue official said, according to Reuters.

An army officer and a police officer said a suicide bomber first broke into the Musab bin Omair Mosque in Imam Wais village in Diyala province, some 120 kilometers northeast of Baghdad, detonating his explosives before gunmen rushed in and opened fire on worshippers.

Witnesses said the death toll from the attack was higher, but it was not immediately possible to verify the reports.

The officials said that fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group have been trying to convince members of two prominent local Sunni tribes - the Oal-Waisi and al-Jabour - to join them but they have thus far refused.

Two medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All of them spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief the media. The towns of Jalula and al-Saadiyah have recently fallen to militants with the Islamic State group but Imam Wais is thus far in government control.

Since early this year, Iraq has been facing an onslaught by the extremist ISIS group and allied Sunni militants across much of the country's north and west. The crisis has worsened since June as the militant fighters swept through new towns in the north, killing dozens of people and displacing hundreds of thousands, mainly members of the minority Christian and Yazidi religious communities.

(With the Associated Press)

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