BAGHDAD, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Thousands protested in Mosul, Iraq, claiming Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government discriminates against the country's Sunni population.
The protests Friday in Iraq's second-largest city mirrored demonstrations by the Sunni minority across Iraq, the Voice of Russia reported. They followed a series of bombings and shootings in Iraq Thursday targeting Shiites and security forces that killed 23 people and wounded 113, police said.
Twin car bombings struck Shiite pilgrims outside a mosque in al-Dujail, north of Baghdad Thursday, killing nine, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.
At least five people were killed when a bomb exploded at a stadium in Hilla, south of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said.
Another car bomb detonated Thursday in a parking lot near a Shiite shrine north of the holy city of Karbala, killing one and injuring 17, police said.
Roadside bomb explosions Thursday killed five people in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala and in the town of al-Husseinliyah, and a gun battle killed a police officer and two suspects in the city of Tuz-Khurmaro, provincial police said.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, Xinhua said, noting that observers see the latest wave of violence as an attempt by insurgent groups to stir sectarian strife among Iraqis, as the country tries to avoid a spillover of violence from neighboring Syria.