A bomb exploded at the entrance of a Shiite Muslim mosque south of Baghdad as hundreds of worshippers gathered for prayers ahead of the breaking of the fast on the first day of Ramadan, killing at least 25 people and wounding 87, police and hospital officials said.
The explosion hit the Husseiniyat Ibn al-Nama mosque, ripping through strings of light-bulbs and green and red flags hung around the entrance to celebrate the start of the holy month. The mosque's facade was ravaged, shops nearby were detroyed and several nearby cars were damaged.
Hundreds of men had gathered at the mosque, located in the center of Hillah, for prayers before returning home to eat the meal that ends the day's sunrise to sunset fast, when the blast went off at 6 p.m. Others were there for a funeral that was taking place at the same time. It was the second major bomb attack in a week in Hillah, one of the most insurgent-hit towns in southern Iraq, the heartland of the Shiite majority. Al-Qaida in Iraq, one of the country's deadliest militant groups, has called for stepped up attacks during Ramadan and has declared an all-out war on Iraq's Shiites.
The blast, which police believed was caused by a planted explosive, killed at least 25 people and wounded at least 87, said Dr. Adnan al-Nashtah of the city's health department. AM