At least 11 people were killed after unidentified gunmen staged an attack with guns and explosives in eastern Iraq's Diyala province, said officials on Friday. No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
The shocking incident occurred on Thursday night in the area of Muqdadiyah, when a roadside bomb exploded and gunmen opened fire on rescuers and bystanders present at the scene, according to two security officials.
The gunmen fled the scene after the incidents, while all the people killed in the attack were reported to be civilians. This is the latest incident of violence in the Diyala province, which has seen periodic attacks by Islamic State cells and sporadic violence due to sectarian tensions between Shia and Sunni Muslims.
Reacting to the incident, Diyala governor Muthanna al-Tamimi vowed in a statement to “pursue the perpetrators of the terrorist attack”. Additionally, 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”.
Rival militias and their tribal and political allies have also fought in their struggle over influence and lucrative racketeering networks in the area, resulting in the deaths of several people. The Diyala province, bordering both Iran and Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, is a prime smuggling route.
Barzani further called for greater cooperation between the Iraqi army, Kurdish peshmerga forces and other security forces, as well as with the US-led international coalition against ISIS.
(with inputs from AP)