Gunmen storm Iraq building, 15 dead

TIKRIT, Iraq — Gunmen in suicide vests were locked in a gun battle with security forces after storming an official building north of Baghdad in an attack that left at least 15 dead and 60 wounded, Iraq officials said.

By (AFP)

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Published: Tue 29 Mar 2011, 7:25 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:25 AM

The gunmen swarmed into the building in Tikrit, about 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of Baghdad, immediately after a suicide bomber detonated his payload and cleared the way, a police official said.

A car bomb exploded shortly afterwards as police reinforcements were arriving, he said.

“Fifteen people have been killed and 60 wounded,” an interior ministry official in Baghdad told AFP.

“A police colonel, Imad Nofan, and his deputy were killed in the car bombing,” a police official said. “At least eight people have been killed inside the building,” another security official said, adding it was unclear whether hostages were being held or how many.

Police said employees were still inside the building.

Some witnesses said that employees had in fact managed to flee the building from another exit, but police said the situation was unclear.

“Police cannot approach because the gunmen are shooting from inside. The attackers are all wearing suicide belts,” a security official said, adding that at least one had detonated his payload inside.

A curfew had been imposed in Tikrit, which is in Salaheddin province, the local television network reported.

The first suicide bombing occurred at 12:40 pm (0940 GMT), and the car bomb exploded about 20 minutes later, the police official said.

Tikrit is the hometown of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator ousted in the 2003 US-led invasion and later tried and hanged.

The province, which has long been a bastion of a Sunni insurgency, remains the scene of bloody attacks.

In mid-January, a suicide bomber blew himself up and killed 50 people in a crowd waiting outside a police recruitment centre in Tikrit.

That blast, which also wounded up to 150, was the first major strike in Iraq since the formation of a new government on December 21.

There was no immediate claim of Tuesday’s attack, but officials said it bore the hallmark of Iraq’s Al-Qaeda affiliate.

Iraq’s security forces are now solely responsible for the country’s security, with the United States having declared a formal end to combat operations in the country at the end of August.

Violence across Iraq has declined substantially since its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common.

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