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Iraq's top Shia cleric condemns Diyala violence

A representative in the city of Najaf delivered Sistani's message in a Friday sermon [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 January, 2016

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has urged the government to prevent militant attacks, condemning bombings claimed by Islamic State this week in the province of Diyala.

Iraq's top Shia religious authority is condemning recent sectarian violence, saying security forces are responsible for preventing such incidents.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani delivered his message Friday in a sermon read by a representative in the city of Najaf.

"We place full responsibility on the government security forces for (the attacks') repetition and to not permit the presence of militants outside the framework of the state," his spokesman, Sheikh Abdul Mehdi Karbala'i, said in a sermon broadcast on state television.

Several days of apparent reprisal attacks have followed a double suicide bombing Monday in the town of Muqdadiyah in Diyala province, about 60 miles (90 kilometres) north of Baghdad.

The bombing, which targeted a cafe frequented by Shia militiamen, was claimed by the Islamic State group.

Residents have since reported attacks on Sunni mosques and business.

Two Iraqi journalists were killed near the provincial capital Tuesday.

Diyala province is historically mixed between Sunnis and Shias, but Shia militias handle most of the security since IS was pushed out in early 2015.

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