Suicide bombers storm Iraq ministry building, 24 killed

Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:46am EST
 
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By Suadad al-Salhy

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Six suicide bombers burst into an Iraqi ministry building, took hostages and killed at least 24 people including themselves on Thursday before security forces regained control, security officials said.

The brazen attack on the building belonging to the Ministry of Transportation in northeast Baghdad coincided with a month-long standoff between the Iraqi army and anti-government fighters in the western province of Anbar.

No group claimed responsibility but suicide bombings in Iraq are the trademark of al-Qaeda linked groups. State buildings are a target for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and its allies that have been regaining momentum in a campaign to destabilize the Shi'ite Muslim-led government.

A senior security source said the six militants took a number of hostages, most of them members of the Facilities Protection Service, and killed nine of them inside the building, which was used to receive visiting delegations.

Four bombers detonated their explosives vests during the assault, a fifth was shot dead by security forces and the last died shortly after being shot, according to security officials.

"The level of security measures in the building was less than normal because it is a service building and not a sensitive site," another senior security official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

A further 50 people were wounded in the attack. An Interior Ministry statement gave out a lower death toll - eight, including the six suicide bombers.

Security officials blamed ISIL for the attack and said they expected more in Baghdad in the coming days to distract the security forces and reduce pressure on their militants in the Anbar cities of Falluja and eastern Ramadi.   Continued...

 
People gather at the site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad, January 30, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad