Amid mosque violence, Sunni leaders suspent government talks
Tensions boiled over Friday when Shiite militiamen opened fire on a Sunni mosque in Baghdad. (AFP/File)
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After Shiite militiamen opened fire on a Sunni mosque in Baghdad Friday, two influential Sunni leaders are pulling out government talks with Shiite leaders.
Original reports suggested more than 70 people were killed in the mosque attack, driving deeper fault lines between leaders from the Sunni minority and new Shiite leadership.
Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Mutlaq and Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jibouri are refusing to continue negotiations with the main Shiite alliance in Baghdad until afer the mosque killings have been fully investigated.
Friday's inciudent marked a wave of fresh violence between Shiites and Sunnis vying for power in Iraq's governement under new PM-elect Haider al-Abadi. Iraqi president Fuad Masum chose Abadi to take the place of past-PM Nouri al-Maliki amid international criticism over his inability to both defend against Islamist militant attacks and unify the country's religious sects.
The challenge to unify and strengthen the country has subsequently been passed on to Abadi, who still needs to construct a new government that includes equal representation of Iraq's diverse groups. With Sunni leaders pulling out of talks, progress could get much slower.
Confirming the suspension, a lawyer with Jibrouri's block said negotiations will be put on hold with the National Alliance until 'results of the investigations are announced."