BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber struck Shiite worshippers Friday at a mosque run by followers of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, killing at least 12 people, a day after Iraqi lawmakers approved a security pact with the United States.
The blast underlined fears on both sides of the argument — proponents of the deal warn the Iraqis aren't ready to take over their own security while opponents, led by the Sadrists, say the American presence is the main reason for the instability plaguing the country.
In Baghdad, thousands of Sadr loyalists took to the streets to rally against the deal in the main Shiite district of Sadr City.
The bomber blew himself up among a group of men waiting to be searched near the green iron gate at the entrance of the main mosque in Musayyib, 40 miles south of Baghdad.
Police and hospital officials said 12 people, including a woman who was begging for money nearby, were killed and 18 wounded. The U.S. military said eight civilians were killed and 15 wounded.
Musayyib contains a volatile mix of Sunni and Shiite extremists and has faced attacks in the past, including a July 16, 2005, suicide bombing that killed some 90 people near the same mosque.
There was no claim of responsibility, but suicide bombings are associated with Sunni extremist groups. The U.S. military has warned Sunni insurgents are trying to provoke revenge attacks by Shiites in order to re-ignite sectarian warfare.