Samarra (Iraq): Two bombs tore through worshippers gathering for prayers at a Sunni mosque in Iraq on Friday, killing 18 people, while seven died in other attacks, officials said.
Militants have carried out numerous attacks on both Sunni and Shiite mosques this year, raising fears of a return to the all-out sectarian conflict that peaked in 2006-2007 and killed thousands of people.
The bombs, which hit the Musab bin Omair mosque near Samarra, north of Baghdad, also wounded 21 people, police and a doctor said.
"A huge explosion happened, and everything around us was thrown in the air," Zaid Abdulwahid, a 26-year-old who was wounded in the blasts, told a news agency at the main hospital in Samarra.
Questions for Abdulwahid had to be shouted, as his hearing was damaged by the explosions.
"We never expected that the mosque would be targeted," said Othman Ahmed, 23, another of the wounded.
He said he initially could not see anything after the blasts, but then noticed he was surrounded by dead and wounded people.
The February 2006 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra itself sparked the wave of brutal sectarian violence that plagued Iraq in past years.
The blasts came a day after the bodies of 10 young men who had been shot dead were found in Baghdad, another reminder of the sectarian conflict, during which militants frequently carried out summary executions.
Other violence struck the Samarra area on today, with a mortar round killing a mother and her young daughter and wounding her husband near the mosque that was bombed.
And another young girl was killed and two of her family members wounded by a mortar attack west of the city.
In the northern province of Kirkuk, gunmen kidnapped and killed a soldier, while a roadside bomb north of the city of Baquba killed one person and wounded three.
And a doctor was killed in an attack in Baghdad, while a bombing against a police colonel`s convoy in the northern city of Mosul killed a woman and wounded 12 people, including the officer.
The United Nation`s deputy special representative for Iraq, Gyorgy Busztin, expressed "extreme concern" this week about sectarian-based displacement of Sunnis and members of the small Shabak minority, and the killing of Sunnis in the country`s south.