At least 15 people have been killed and 40 more injured after a suicide bomber attacked a funeral in Baquba in central Iraq, according to local media.
Iraq’s Alsumaria news website quoted local police sources as saying that the attack took place on Monday evening at the funeral of a tribal sheikh in a village near Baquba, 50km northeast of the capital Baghdad.
Provincial police spokesman Ghalib al-Karkhi said the bomber set off his explosives in the tent filled with mourners on the third and last day of the funeral for a leader of the Zubaidi Shia tribe.
An official blamed al-Qaeda-allied Sunni fighters.
“Absolutely this is the way of al-Qaeda; targeting innocent people to ignite the sectarian unrest,” Sadiq al-Husseini, head of the Diyala provincial council, said.
Diyala is one of the last provinces in Iraq where al-Qaeda and its allies remain a strong threat.
The province, which is sandwiched between Baghdad and Iran, is divided among Sunnis, Shias and Kurds and has been a sectarian flashpoint for years.
Monday’s attack comes after five people were killed overnight on Monday in two car bombs in Ramadi, 120km west of Baghdad.
Though weakened after years of war with Iraqi and US troops, the country’s al-Qaeda affiliate and allied Sunni Islamists are still potent.
At least one major attack has occurred each month in the six months since US forces left.
A suicide bomber detonated a car bomb outside a Shia religious office in Baghdad at the start of June, killing more
than 20 people, and more than 75 were killed in bombings and attacks mainly targetting Shia pilgrims last week.
The latest attacks come as Maliki fends of attempts by Sunni, Kurd and some Shia rivals to organise a vote of no
confidence against him.
His opponents accuse the Shia leader of trying to consolidate his power at their expense.