A suicide bomb exploded Friday in the midst of prayers at a Sunni mosque in Diyala, Iraq, killing at least 20 civilians. The bloodshed is the latest violent act to strike worshippers during this year's Ramadan, which has seen almost two hundred deaths since the holy month began last week.
The country has seen a jump in violence in recent months, prompting fears of a resurgence of the near-civil war that occurred nearly ten years ago. UN figures estimate that 2,500 Iraqis have died through violence since April.
Diyala houses a mix of religions, and was a hotbed of violence during the U.S. invasion. Sunni and Shiite Muslims have fought for control of the region, and the area remains a prime target for terrorist attacks. No group has so far claimed responsibility for today's bombing, but attacks on Sunni mosques have also seen a sharp rise in the last few months.
Witnesses today said that the imam was delivering the daily sermon when the bomb was detonated. The left side of the mosque, where it exploded, was filled with men and children.
"Terrorism is targeting all sects in Diyala mainly by attacking Sunni and Shiite mosques, funerals and football fields to draw the province into a sectarian conflict. All the victims were civilians," councilman al-Husseini announced during an appeal for stability. "I call on all Diyala residents to show self-restraint."