February 29, 2016 1:11 pm
Updated: February 29, 2016 1:19 pm

Suicide bombing at Iraqi funeral kills at least 25

Iraqi policemen guard the area as Sunni and Shiite tribal clerics and leaders meet to discuss reconciliation between the Muslim sects and recent sectarian violence in the town of Muqdadiyah, northeast of Baghdad on January 23, 2016.

Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images
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BAGHDAD – A suicide bomber struck an Iraqi funeral on Monday, killing at least 25 people, including a local Shiite militia leader, in a town north of Baghdad that saw a wave of revenge attacks after a similar bombing in January.

Another 52 people were wounded in the bombing in Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles (90 kilometres) north of the capital, according to security and hospital officials.

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The dead included a local commander in Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a powerful Shiite militia that is part of the state-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Forces, responsible for much of the security in the area.

READ MORE: Twin bombing attacks in Baghdad market kill at least 59

The Islamic State group bombed a cafe frequented by militiamen in Muqdadiyah in January, killing at least 32 people and triggering a wave of revenge attacks on Sunni mosques and civilians. The New York-based Human Rights Watch blamed the reprisal attacks on powerful militias within the Popular Mobilization Forces.

The Islamic State group also claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack according to a statement posted online shortly afterward. On Sunday a double bombing in Baghdad claimed by the IS group killed 73 people.

The initial blast ripped through a crowded market in the Shiite district of Sadr City. A suicide bomber then targeted the crowd that gathered to help the victims. Two police officials said 112 people remain hospitalized. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

READ MORE: Iraqi Kurdish troops rescue Swedish teen from Islamic State

Sunday’s bombings marked the deadliest single attack in the Iraqi capital in months, fueling fears that the IS group is resorting to mass attacks on civilians as it suffers battlefield setbacks.

IS still controls much of northern and western Iraq, but has been driven back in recent months. The government recently declared the western city of Ramadi “fully liberated.” IS had captured the city last year.

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Associated Press writer Murtada Faraj contributed to this report.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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