Mosque among targets as 21 killed in series of bomb attacks across Baghdad

A suicide bomber set off his explosives-laden belt in a mosque in busy commercial area in central Baghdad, killing at least 17 people.

The bomber entered the Shiite mosque in the Shorja market in the city centre yesterday as worshippers were heading inside to attend noon prayers. The explosion wounded 29 other people.

Inside the mosque, furniture lay overturned, walls were pockmarked with shrapnel and the floor was littered with shattered glass. Outside, blast barriers were stained with blood.

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A second bomb attack in a Baghdad vegetable market in the eastern Shiite neighbourhood of Sadr City killed two civilians and wounded five others.

Two policemen were killed and six other people wounded when another bomb hit a police patrol in the southern Dora district.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but they bore the hallmarks of the Iraqi branch of al-Qaida, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The group frequently targets Shiites, who it considers heretics, and carries out co-ordinated bombings in an attempt to incite sectarian strife.

The attacks come as Iraq’s Shiite-led government is struggling to contain a surge in sectarian violence unseen since the country was pushed to the brink of civil war in 2006 and 2007 after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.