Shiite militiamen gunned down 70 people in an apparent revenge attack at an Iraqi Sunni mosque Friday, dealing a blow to government efforts to regain territory seized by jihadist-led militants.
The shooting in Diyala province will increase already significant anger among Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority with the Shiite-led government, undermining an anti-militant drive that ultimately requires Sunni cooperation to succeed.
It came as government forces battled to regain ground in Diyala, and Washington warned of the dangers of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, which spearheaded an offensive that overran swathes of Iraq in June, and this week released a video of American journalist James Foley being beheaded.
Army and police officers said the attack on the Musab bin Omair Mosque came after Shiite militiamen were killed in clashes in the area, while other sources said it followed a roadside bomb near one of their patrols.
Doctors and the officers put the toll from the attack, in which worshippers were sprayed with machinegun fire, at 70 dead and 20 wounded.
Pro-ISIS twitter accounts posted video of the Abu Bakr mosque after the bloody attack.
At least 30 bodies had arrived at the hospital in the city of Baquba in Diyala province.
Sunnis pulled out of Iraq talks after the mosque attack today. (Yahoo)