Suicide bomber kills at least 21 at funeral in northern Iraq

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Originally published on September 15, 2013

A suicide bomber killed at least 21 people at the funeral of a member of Iraq's Shabak ethnic minority near the northern city of Mosul in Iraq on Saturday (September 15).

According to Reuters, "It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, but Sunni Islamist militants have in the past targeted Shabaks, who are predominantly Shi'ite, warning them to leave the area.

"Iraq's delicate sectarian balance has come under acute strain from the war in neighboring Syria, which has pitted mainly Sunni rebels against a leader backed by Shi'ite Iran.

""I was attending the funeral sitting with the women when we heard a huge explosion," said Umm Mohammed, who at the funeral in Bartella, 25 km (15 miles) east of Nineveh's capital, Mosul.

""When we went out, we found some men either killed or injured," she said.

"Sunni Islamist insurgents, who view Shi'ites as non-believers, have been regaining momentum in Iraq in recent months, raising fears of a return to the scale of intercommunal violence that peaked in 2006-07 following the U.S.-led invasion.

"About 800 Iraqis were killed in acts of violence in August, according to the United Nations. That is still well below its height, when the monthly death toll sometimes topped 3,000."

The Shabak, who number about 50,000, live between the Mosul plain and Bashiqa. They are ethnic Turkomen with their own language and belief system. Most of Shabak follow a faith considered an offshoot of Shia Islam, and are frequently targeted in attacks by Sunni militants.

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