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Iraq Sunni mosques close over clashes, 20 killed

World News : Attacks mostly targeting Sunni-majority areas of Iraq killed 20 people on Friday as the minority community shuttered countless mosques nationwide, complaining that security forces were failing to provide adequate protection.

The move follows a months-long surge in bloodshed, with the latest wave of violence leaving around 200 people dead in the past week alone, that has forced Baghdad to appeal for international help in combatting militancy just months before its first general election in four years.

Officials have also voiced concern over a resurgent Al-Qaeda emboldened by the civil war in neighbouring Syria which has provided the jihadist networks front groups with increased room to plan operations in Iraq.

Attacks on Friday struck Sunni-majority areas in and around Baghdad, the restive province of Diyala, and the main northern city of Mosul, leaving at least 20 dead and dozens of others wounded, security and medical officials said.

Five separate shootings and bombings in the capital, including one adjacent to a Sunni mosque, killed at least 11 people, while blasts in the nearby Sunni towns of Abu Ghraib and Tarmiyah left three others dead.

Further attacks near Mosul, a mostly Sunni city in restive Nineveh province, killed four people — two soldiers and two policemen.

Gunmen in Khales, a town in Diyala province, meanwhile killed the imam of a Sunni mosque and his guard.

The unrest is part of a surge in bloodshed that has pushed violence to its highest level since 2008, when Iraq was recovering from the worst of its sectarian war.

More than 5,800 people have been killed so far this year, according to an AFP tally based on reports from security and medical officials.

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