20 killed, 125 wounded in Iraq car bombing (Lead)

June 4th, 2012 - 10:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Baghdad, June 4 (IANS) At least 20 people were killed and 125 others wounded Monday in a suicide car bombing here in the Iraqi capital, Xinhua reported.

The attack took place around 10.45 a.m. when a suicide bomber drove his explosives-laden car into the entrance of a Shia endowment office in Bab al-Mu’dham district, an interior ministry official said.

The powerful blast destroyed the building and damaged nearby houses, while many cars were left charred. A plume of black smoke was seen over the area.

Security forces sealed off the scene, as ambulances, police and civilian cars evacuated the injured to nearby hospitals.

An official said the bombing was an attempt to create sectarian tensions.

“There are agendas to divide the Iraqi people by stirring up tension between the Shia and Sunni endowment offices, as the attackers use the dispute over the al-Askari shrine in Samarra,” said Sami al-Massudi, deputy chief of the Shia endowment office.

The Shia office has been reportedly seeking to take over management of many Sunni mosques and properties, including the al-Askari shrine in Samarra, 110 km from Baghdad, which has the tombs of Ali al-Hadi and Hassan al-Askari, the 10th and 11th imams of the Shias.

Sunnis in Samarra say the two imams are their ancestors and they have been running the shrine for over hundreds of years.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki condemned the attack.

“We confirm that such heinous crimes will fail to sow sectarian strife among the Iraqi people,” Maliki said in a statement posted on his website.

The Shia and Sunni endowment offices are independent bodies affiliated to the government and are responsible for running mosques and their religious properties.

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