At least three Sunni mosques were attacked south of the capital Thursday, police said, in apparent retaliation for the destruction of two minarets at the Shiite Askariya shrine in Samarra a day earlier.
According to the AP, police said four Sunni mosques near Baghdad were attacked or burned within several hours of the Samarra explosions Wednesday. One of those Sunni mosques, which was only partially destroyed, came under attack again Thursday, police said. Around 4 a.m., attackers broke into the Hateen mosque in Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad, and planted bombs inside.
Flames from a huge blast destroyed most of the building, and a woman and child in a nearby apartment were injured, an Iskandariyah police officer said. Gunmen also tried to storm the nearby al-Mustafa mosque early Thursday, and exchanged fire with guards before Iraqi soldiers arrived and stopped them, police said.
In Mahaweel, 35 miles south of Baghdad, gunmen opened fire on the al-Basheer mosque at dawn, police said. They forced guards to leave the mosque, then set fire to it, a local police officer said. The building was partially damaged, he said.
Also Thursday, police in Basra said four people died and six were hurt in attacks on Sunni mosques there a day earlier. The attacks on the Kawaz, Othman, al-Abayshi and Basra Grand mosques all involved rocket-propelled grenades and left the buildings only partially damaged, police said.