Suicide bomb near Iraqi Sunni mosque kills 16 -police and medics

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomb attack near a Sunni mosque in a southern district of the Iraqi capital killed at least 16 people on Saturday, police and medics said.

The blast took place in Doura, where people had gathered to pray after breaking their daily fast for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"A bomb exploded while worshippers were leaving the mosque of Khalid Bin al-Waleed. Bodies were thrown back by the power of the explosion," said a policeman at the scene.

The violence is part of a sustained campaign of militant attacks since the start of the year that has prompted fears of wider conflict in a country where ethnic Kurds and Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims have yet to find a stable power-sharing compromise.

So far this month, some 334 people have been killed in militant attacks, according to the violence monitoring group Iraq Body Count.

Elsewhere on Saturday, four policemen were killed when a car packed with explosives driven by an apparent suicide bomber was fired on by police in the town of Abbara near Baquba, about 50 km (30 miles) northeast of Baghdad, and blew up, police and medics said.

The bomber's apparent target was a funeral tent nearby.

A fifth policeman was killed when a bomb exploded near his patrol in Madaen, a town 30 km (20 miles) southeast of Baghdad.

Iraq's delicate sectarian balance has come under growing strain from the conflict in neighboring Syria, where mainly Sunni rebels are fighting to overthrow a leader whose Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.

(Reporting by Kareem Raheem and Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Isabel Coles; Editing by Kevin Liffey)