(Reuters) – Attacks on Shi’ite Muslims killed at least 59 people across Iraq on Thursday, including a suicide truck bomb targeting members of the country’s Shabak minority, police and medics said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for any of the attacks, but Shi’ites are viewed as apostates by hardline Sunni Islamists who have been regrouping and gathering pace in an insurgency this year.
Militants linked to al Qaeda have in the past attacked Shabaks, who are mainly Shi’ite.
Sectarian tensions in Iraq and the wider Middle East have been brought to a boil by Syria’s civil war, which has drawn Sunnis and Shi’ites from the region and beyond into battle.
Ten bombs exploded in primarily Shi’ite districts of the Iraqi capital late on Thursday, killing 44 people in all, police and medics said. One blast occurred near an amusement park north of Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood, killing six children.
Earlier in the day, a suicide bomber driving a truck packed with explosives blew himself up in a village in the northern province of Nineveh, killing at least 15 Shabaks.
The village of Mwafaqiya, where the bomber struck, is home to many Shabak families who used to live in the provincial capital Mosul but fled the city after being threatened by militant groups.
“At 6 a.m. this morning, a suicide truck bomber detonated himself amid the houses of my village,” said Qusay Abbas, a former Shabak representative in the Mosul provincial council. “There are still some people under the debris of their houses.”