Isis Isil Islamic State
Shi'ite volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), gesture during a parade on a street in Kanaan, Diyala provinceReuters

Militants targeted a Sunni mosque in a province next to the Iraqi capital during weekly prayers on Friday, killing at least 46 people and wounding over 50 as members of the Islamic State group continue to push through the area, officials have said.

According to an AP report, an army officer and a police officer confirmed that a suicide bomber ran into the Musab bin Omair Mosque in Imam Wais village, detonating his device before gunmen opened fire on worshippers.

Security sources and morgue officials said that at least 68 bodies had been taken to the hospital in Diyala province's main city.

Attacks on mosques are an especially fraught issue as they have been known to cause a series of revenge attacks within the Sunni-Shia sectarian divide in the country.

The increasingly sectarian violence has potential to disrupt efforts by Iraq's new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, to form a unity government against IS.

Elsewhere, Iraq's most influential Shia cleric said that differences between Iraq's leaders should be settled in a "realistic and doable" manner to create a unity government.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said any new government should consist of people who place importance on "the country's future and its citizens" regardless of their faith.

He warned that certain politicians' "demands and conditions could derail the forming of the new government".

The cleric's comments were delivered by his representative, Abdul-Mahdi al-Karbalaie, during Friday prayers in the Shiite holy city of Karbala.

According to Human Rights Watch, Iraqi security forces killed over 255 Sunni prisoners in July in retaliation for the killings of Shias by Isis (now known as the Islamic State).