BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – A car bomb exploded outside a Sunni Muslim mosque in southwestern Baghdad on Friday, killing at least four Iraqis and wounding 21, police said.
The car was parked about 10 meters (yards) from the Iskan al-Shaabi mosque in the southern Dora neighborhood when it exploded after 1 p.m., shattering glass in the building and causing casualties inside and outside, said police Lt. Thaer Mahmoud.
Police forces cordoned off the scene and prevented journalists approaching the mosque, where worshippers were attending the main weekly Muslim prayer service.
Witness Ahmed Hassan, 36, who was praying inside the mosque at the time, blamed the attack on militants trying to stoke sectarian tensions in Iraq.
“Terrorists are trying to drive a wedge between Sunnis and Shiites,zz’ said Hassan, who was praying inside the mosque when the explosion blasted windows and sprayed shards of glass over worshippers.
“Some worshippers were leaving and others were praying inside when the explosion blasted glass all over us and smoke filled the mosque,” Hassan said. “Outside we were shocked to see so many wounded people and cars on fire.”
Lt. Mohammed Khayoun said at least four people were killed and another 21 wounded, most of them mosque worshippers.
An Interior Ministry official, who declined to be identified because he was unauthorized to speak to the media, confirmed the same number of casualties.
Armed Shiite Muslim and Sunni Arab militants have been targeting each other in a worsening campaign of killings and kidnappings across Iraq.