A bomb attack outside a Sunni mosque on Friday killed seven worshippers as Sunnis continued to hold demonstrations in Iraq to protest what they say is second-class treatment by the Shia-led government.

Sunni mosques have been targeted in several recent attacks amid rising sectarian tension in Iraq following a deadly crackdown by security forces on a Sunni protest site in Hawija town last month. Since then, violence has been on the upswing, raising concerns that the nation is on a return to bloody fighting in the past decade that approached a state of civil war.

Police officials said the attack on the Sunni mosque occurred as worshippers were leaving mid-day prayers at al-Ghofran mosque in a primarily Sunni area of Rashidiya.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Al-Qaeda’s Iraqi branch, known as the Islamic State of Iraq, often attacks civilian targets, including mosques. It primarily targets Shias as well as security forces. In the past, it has also struck Sunni targets in an attempt to re-ignite sectarian fighting. Shia militias in the past also targeted Sunnis as sectarian fighting in 2006-2007, but they are not known to have carried out large-scale bombing attacks against Sunnis for years.

Many from Iraq’s Sunni minority say they are marginalized and discriminated against by the Shia-led government. They say they face discrimination, particularly in the application of a tough anti-terrorism law that they believe unfairly targets their sect.

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