Gunmen kill 11 in roadside attack in eastern Iraq

An official blamed ISIL for the attack, which took place in Diyala province.

Map of Diyala province, Iraq

Eleven civilians have been killed and others wounded in a bomb and gun attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) in eastern Iraq, according to security officials.

The attack took place in Muqdadiyah in Diyala province, about 100km (62 miles) from the capital Bagdad, on Thursday night. Sporadic violence by ISIL cells continues in the far eastern region, despite the group having been largely wiped out.

A roadside bomb exploded and gunmen then opened fire on rescuers and bystanders, security officials told the Associated Press.

Security sources told the Reuters news agency that the attack targeted relatives of a local MP and two bombs destroyed a vehicle in which several people were travelling. Locals who arrived at the scene to help were then targeted with sniper fire, the sources said. At least a dozen people were reported injured.

A source at the Iraqi Ministry of Interior told the AFP news agency that the vehicle was a minibus and was targeted “by two homemade bombs on its return from an electoral meeting”.

The gunmen fled the scene. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

‘Cowardly operation’

Muthana al-Tamimi, the governor of Diyala, denounced the attack as “a cowardly operation” by ISIL fighters.

On his Facebook page, he called on the security forces to “intensify vigilance against dormant cells” of the armed group, which remains active in the area, which sits on Iraq’s eastern border with Iran.

Nechirvan Barzani, president of the Kurdish region to the north, said the attack “proves the fact that terrorism still poses a real threat and challenge, and that we must confront them with all our force and ability”.

He called for greater cooperation between the Iraqi army, Kurdish Peshmerga forces and other security forces, as well as with the United States-led international coalition against ISIL.

Diyala has seen periodic attacks by ISIL cells and sporadic violence due to sectarian tensions, as well as fighting between rival militias and their tribal and political allies.

Thursday’s attack came ahead of the election on December 18 of provincial councils, which in turn elect the governors.

Iraq is trying to move past four decades of war and unrest, including the overthrow 20 years ago of the dictator Saddam Hussein in a US-led invasion.

About 2,500 US soldiers remain in Iraq as part of international efforts to prevent a resurgence of IS.

A United Nations report published in July said ISIL has “between 5,000 and 7,000 members across Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic, most of whom are fighters”.

Source: News Agencies