Suicide truck bomber kills 15 in Iraq

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.

FILE: Iraqi security secure the area of a car bomb on March 16, 2013.  Picture: AFP.

MOSUL, Iraq - A suicide bomber driving a truck packed with explosives blew himself up in a village in northern Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 15 members of the country's Shabak minority, police said.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, but Sunni Islamist militants who have a presence in Nineveh province have in the past targeted predominantly Shi'ite Shabaks living there and have warned them to leave.

The attack took place in the village of Mwafaqiya, to which Shabak families formerly living in the provincial capital Mosul had fled after being threatened.

"At 6 am this morning, a suicide truck bomber detonated himself amid the houses of my village," said Qusay Abbas, a former Shabak representative in the Mosul provincial council. "There are still some people under the debris of their houses."

Sunni Islamists and other insurgents including an al Qaeda affiliate have been regaining ground this year in an onslaught against Iraq's Shi'ite-led government and its allies.

Al Qaeda views Shi'ite Muslims as non-believers.

More than 6,000 people have been killed in acts of violence across the country this year, according to monitoring group Iraq Body Count.

Last month, at least 21 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a Shabak funeral in Nineveh, which lies just outside the boundary of the relatively secure and autonomous Kurdistan region.

"The recent rise in violence in the Nineveh province calls for urgent action and strengthened security cooperation between the Government of Iraq, the Nineveh provincial authorities and the Kurdish Regional Government," United Nations envoy to Iraq Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement condemning the attack.