BAGHDAD, (AP) – A suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself up Sunday amid a crowd of demonstrators in northern Iraq who were protesting Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza, killing one demonstrator and wounding 16 others, Iraqi police said.
The bomber rode his bicycle into the demonstration of about 1,300 people in the center of the northern city of Mosul, said a police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with news media.
The demonstration was organized by the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party. The party’s Mosul spokesman, Yahiya Abid Mahjoub, complained that police and the Iraqi army had not taken security precautions for the demonstration.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, the officer said.
“The ones who targeted our brothers in Gaza are the same who targeted us in Mosul today. They are agents of Israel,” Mahjoub said.
U.S. and Iraqi forces continue to battle al-Qaeda and other insurgents in Mosul, Iraq’s third largest city, where economic and political problems persist. The issues are complicated by Kurdish-Arab tensions in the city.
Also Sunday, police in Fallujah said a bomb exploded on the outskirts of the city, killing two civilians and wounding four others.
A police officer said the bomb exploded in a parking lot where farmers and other merchants gather to buy and sell goods.
Delivery trucks and other vehicles that do not have access permits for Fallujah are not allowed to drive into the city, which is west of Baghdad.
The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to release information to the news media.
Iraq’s government also condemned Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza, which began Saturday.
In a statement, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Iraq is demanding that Israel immediately halt attacks on Gaza and called on the international community “to take the necessary steps to stop this attack.”
Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said condemnation didn’t go far enough.
“Expressing condemnation and denunciation for what is going on against our brothers in Gaza and expressing solidarity with them by words only doesn’t mean anything in the face of the big tragedy they are facing,” he said in a statement released by office in Najaf.
“Now more than at any other time, both Arab and Islamic nations are required to take a practical stance for the sake of stopping this repeated aggression and to break the unfair besieging of these brave people,” the statement said, without giving details of the proposed stance.
About 100 people took to the streets in Baghdad’s largest Palestinian neighborhood, a complex of 16 apartment blocks surrounded by Shiite areas in the Baladiyat district, to protest the attacks. Some carried signs denouncing Israel and others carried flags.