BAGHDAD, (Reuters) – A suicide bomber wearing an explosives-packed vest killed 12 people and wounded 17 others inside a Shi’ite mosque south of Baghdad at prayer time on Friday, police said.
The U.S. military said initial reports indicated a suicide bomber killed seven worshippers and wounded 30.
The attack took place a day after Iraq’s parliament passed a security pact with Washington that allows U.S. troops to remain for another three years and puts them under the control of the Baghdad government from 2009.
The mosque, 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad, where the attack occurred is mainly used by worshippers who follow the firebrand anti-American Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Lawmakers loyal to Sadr opposed the security pact to the last, demanding instead that the U.S. forces that invaded Iraq in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein withdraw immediately.
The explosion happened shortly before Friday prayers were due to begin, a police source said, asking not to be identified.
Iraqi police and soldiers quickly sealed off the mosque.
Violence in Iraq has slipped to four-year lows but car bombings and suicide blasts, thought to be mainly the work of al Qaeda in Iraq or affiliated groups, continue.
U.N. officials say the attacks are aimed at provoking renewed sectarian fighting between minority Sunni Arabs, once affiliated with al Qaeda, and the majority Shi’ites who are now in charge of Iraq.