A suicide bomber blew himself up at a funeral for the relative of a Shi’ite Muslim militia commander in Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala on Monday, killing at least 40 people in an attack claimed by Islamic State.
The bombing in Muqdadiya, 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Baghdad, killed six local commanders of the Hashid Shaabi umbrella group of Shi’ite militias who were attending the funeral ceremony, security officials and police in Diyala said.
A further 58 people were wounded, the sources said.
Islamic State, an ultra-hardline Sunni group that controls large parts of northern and western Iraq, claimed responsibility for the blast, according to a statement posted on the SITE monitoring group’s Twitter account.
The killing of the commanders, four of whom were from the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia and two from the Badr Organisation, is likely to inflame sectarian tensions in the mixed province.
Security officials and witnesses said the situation inside Muqdadiya was tense, with dozens of Shi’ite militia members deployed in the streets and security forces absent.
Militia elements have been accused of attacking Sunni Muslim mosques and residents in Diyala following similar bombings in January, but the groups have denied the allegations and blamed Islamic State.
Iraqi officials declared victory over the Sunni insurgents in Diyala a year ago, but although it no longer controls significant territory in the eastern province, Islamic State has remained active there.
The attack follows the deadliest bombing inside the capital Baghdad so far this year, which left 78 people dead in a Shi’ite district on Sunday.