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Dozens killed in attack on Sunni mosque in Iraq

BAGHDAD — Dozens of Sunni worshipers were killed during a militant raid on a rural mosque Friday in central Iraq, an attack that security officials said had followed the attempted assassination of a local Shiite leader.

Security officials said at least 43 people were killed, although some reports said the death toll exceeded 60.

It was not clear who carried out either attack or whether they were even linked, but the violence still stoked sectarian recriminations and threatened to complicate efforts by Iraq's newly designated prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, to form a government to run the country.

Iraq has been struggling with a new wave of violence and political turmoil since extremists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria seized territory in the country's north and west, including its second-largest city, Mosul.

The United States has called the formation of an inclusive government a key step toward dealing with ISIS.

In a statement, Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, condemned the attack on "innocent men, women and children."

"This senseless attack underscores the urgent need for Iraqi leaders from across the political spectrum to take the necessary steps that will help unify the country," she said.

The attacks affected a group of villages near Hamreen Lake in Diyala province, 100 miles northeast of Baghdad, where Shiite Kurds live among a majority of Sunni Arabs.

Dozens killed in attack on Sunni mosque in Iraq 08/23/14 [Last modified: Saturday, August 23, 2014 12:05am]

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