An Iraqi policeman takes pictures of debris at the site of a blast in Baquba, the provincial capital of the Diyala province, on February 23, 2012.
Credit: STR

At least 15 people have been killed and dozens injured in a suicide attack on a Shia funeral in the central Iraqi city of Baquba, hospital officials say.

According to the Agence France Presse, a bomber detonated an explosive belt at the gathering at about 18.15 local time (10.15 EST). Police and military forces cordoned off the scene after the attack. A doctor at Baquba General Hospital told the news agency that the hospital was treating 40 people wounded in the blast.

According to Reuters, more than 130 people have been killed since Sunni militant groups – including Al Qaeda’s local affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq – launched a series of bombing attacks on Shia Muslims in recent weeks, in a bid to undermine the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and trigger further sectarian fighting in the country.

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Last Wednesday 72 people were killed in a wave of nearly two dozen coordinated attacks on Shia pilgrims across Iraq, while on Saturday at least 32 people were killed in two separate car bomb attacks on Shia Muslim pilgrims in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

Thousands of pilgrims had travelled to the city to mark the final day of a festival commemorating the anniversary of the death of Moussa al-Kadhim, the Prophet Muhammad’s great-grandson and the seventh imam according to Shia Islam.

Tensions are running high as Shi’ite, Sunni and ethnic Kurdish political parties continue to dispute power-sharing arrangements in the country, with al-Maliki struggling to avert proposed votes of no confidence, Reuters reported.

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