A suicide car-bombing killed at least 31 people and wounded 60 others when it struck a Shiite funeral in Baghdad Friday, the latest violent act of many in the turbulent country, news sources report.
The attack was a result of suspected al Qaeda militants attempting create open sectarian warfare by provoking a counterattack by Shiite militias on Sunnis now that U.S. troops are no longer in Iraq, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
According to CNN, officials said the bombing happened as mourners were heading toward a hospital to recover the bodies of relatives shot the night before.
The violence continued when minutes after the explosion, gunmen opened fire at a checkpoint in Zafaraniyah. The attack killed two police officers, police officials told the San Francisco Chronicle.
According to the London-based Iraq Body Count, a group that tracks civilian deaths, in the last five months, there have been 398 deaths Iraq in August, 394 in September, 355 in October, 272 in November and 371 in December.
Friday's attack would bring January's deaths to more than 400, Hamit Dardagan, co-founder and principal analyst of Iraq Body Count told CNN.
"It's not a pretty scenario. There doesn't seem to be a stabilizing presence or force," such as a regional power or a credible mediator to resolve the crisis, Ramzy Mardini, Institute for the Study of War analyst told CNN.
"Iraq has entered a new era of post-Saddam politics," Mardini said to CNN.