A wave of bombings struck majority Shiite Muslim areas of Baghdad and two other Iraqi cities Monday, killing at least four dozen people in an apparently worsening spiral of
In the deadliest incident, a suicide bomber set off his explosives in a mosque, killing 11 people and wounding more than 30 in a poor, predominantly Shiite section of the capital known as New Baghdad.
The Sunni Muslim extremist group
Four other car bombs exploded in neighborhoods across Baghdad, killing 21 people, while deadly blasts also shook the Shiite holy city of Karbala and the majority Shiite city of Hillah, south of Baghdad.
The attacks came on the day that Prime Minister-designate Haider Abadi held his first official news conference and called for national unity as the country struggles to stop the advance of Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in the lands it controls in Iraq and Syria.
Abadi condemned the Diyala mosque attack, which has widely been blamed on Shiite militias loyal to the government, and called for the militias to come under Baghdad's control and cease acting independently. The mosque attack prompted leading Sunni politicians to pull out of crucial talks on forming a new government, which Abadi must complete by Sept. 10.
"All the massacres being committed against the civilians by the armed groups and militias are condemned and rejected," Abadi said.
"Being serious in combating terrorism isn't achieved by transgressing against others' sovereignty," Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said at a news conference in Damascus, the Syrian capital. "We know better than anyone else what is happening on our land."
The offer of cooperation by Assad's government, which the Obama administration has accused of committing crimes against civilians during Syria's 3-year-old civil war, illustrates how Islamic State's rise has upended U.S. policy in the Middle East. Last week, the militant group released a video showing one of its fighters beheading American journalist James Foley, an act that could force President Obama to take tougher action.
U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said the Sunni extremists were singling out religious and ethnic minorities, including Christians, Yazidis, ethnic Turkmens and other groups, as they promulgate a fundamentalist form of Islam.
Pillay said the U.N. had received credible reports that hundreds of Iraqis had been abducted and that many were executed for refusing to convert to Islam.
"Such persecution would amount to crimes against humanity," Pillay said in a statement.
Special correspondent Nabih Bulos in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.