Twin suicide bombers killed 31 people and wounded 57 others after midday prayers at a Shiite Muslim hussainiyah, or religious hall, in Baghdad on Tuesday, the latest in violence that has sparked fears of a revival of full-blown sectarian bloodshed.
The blasts took place in the
Habib ibn al-Mudhaher hussainiyah in the capital's northern Qahira neighbourhood, the interior ministry and police sources said, and left 30 others wounded.
The first bomber blew himself up at the entrance to the hall, while the second ran through the ensuing chaos and set off his explosives inside the building, said the officials.
The hussainiyah, a hall that can be used for religious functions as well as prayers, lies adjacent to the Imam al-Sadiq university, a private teaching institution.
As a result, many of the victims were students, the police source said.
Ali Shammari, a 20-year-old second-year law student who was covered in dust, told AFP the attackers had been dressed in suits and began their attack by gunning down the guard before blowing themselves up.
Meanwhile, bombings elsewhere in Baghdad and north of the capital in Salaheddin province killed people and wounded six.
Violence has surged across Iraq recently, with May the deadliest month in Iraq since 2008. That has sparked fears of a revival of the brutal sectarian war that killed tens of thousands in 2006 and 2007.
There has been a heightened level of unrest since the beginning of the year in Iraq, coinciding with rising discontent among the Sunni Arab minority that erupted into protests in late December.
Analysts say a lack of effort by the Shiite-led authorities to address the underlying causes of the demonstrations has given militant groups fuel and room to manoeuvre to carry out their activities.