Iraqi PM orders manhunt for attackers of Sunni mosques

January 5, 2016 6:22 am 

BAGHDAD, Jan 4 — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday ordered security forces in Babil province to hunt down militiamen who bombed three Sunni mosques in the province, in a bid to quell sectarian tension.

In a statement by his office, Abadi, is also the commander-in-chief of Iraqi armed forces, ordered Babil Operations Command to hunt down criminal gangs that attacked the mosques in order to stir up sedition and hit national unity.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry also said in a statement that the attacks on the mosques were intended to provoke sectarian infighting in Iraqi society.

"These attacks were desperate attempts to create enmity among the Iraqi sects. There are ongoing efforts to revive sectarian tensions on the background of the events taking place in the region," the statement said, referring to the escalation of Shiite-Sunni tension after the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia.

The ministry said that it will firmly and strongly confront any attempt that might threat the unity of Iraqi society, according to the statement.

Earlier in the day, a security source from Babil province told Xinhua that unidentified gunmen wearing military uniforms bombed a Sunni mosque in the provincial capital city of Hilla, some 100 km south of Baghdad, and another group detonated bombs at a mosque in the village of Sinjar, just north of Hilla, and at a third mosque in the town of Iskandriyah, some 50 km north of Hilla.

Iraqi security forces immediately cordoned off the scenes and intensified security measures for fear of reprisal attacks between the Sunni and Shiite communities in the province.

The incident came as outrage flared among Shiite Muslims on Saturday immediately after the Saudi Interior Ministry announced the execution of 47 people on terrorist charges, including prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

After the execution, Iraqi Shiite officials and politicians condemned the implementation of the death sentence against al-Nimr and accused Saudi Arabia of intending to fuel sectarian strife in the region. (PNA/Xinhua)

RMA/EDS

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