BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest inside a mosque in central Iraq on Wednesday, killing at least five people and wounding 15, police said.
The attack took place at a Sunni Muslim mosque in the town of Dhuluiya, 70 km (45 miles) north of Baghdad, police in Tikrit said. Initial reports said the attack injured Nadhim al-Jubouri, a leader of a local armed guard unit, but police later said he was not among those injured.
An official at a security forces command center in Tikrit said the bomber was a young man of around 15 to 16 years old.
The violence in Iraq unleashed by the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003 has eased from the worst of the sectarian bloodletting in 2006-2007.
But suicide bombings and other attacks continue to jar Iraq’s fragile calm, especially in ethnically mixed areas, even as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw by the end of 2011.
On Monday, a suicide bomber dressed in a police uniform killed four policemen near a local government headquarters in northeastern Diyala province. Eight U.S. soldiers were wounded.
Some say violence could surge anew as rival political and armed groups position themselves ahead of anticipated national elections slated for late this year.
The U.S.-backed mainly Sunni guard units, known as Sons of Iraq or Awakening Councils, are credited with helping drive al Qaeda militants out of much of Iraq since they sprang up in western Anbar province in 2006.
But the relationship of the guards, many of them former insurgents themselves, with the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad has often been strained.
Editing by Louise Ireland