Iraq forces free hostages, January toll tops 900

2014-01-30 17:00
(Ahmad Al-Rubaye, AFP)

(Ahmad Al-Rubaye, AFP)

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Baghdad - Iraqi forces killed four militants and ended a hostage crisis after attackers stormed a Baghdad government building on Thursday, as nationwide violence took January's death toll past 900 with elections looming.

The brazen assault on a building in the northeast of the capital comes as security forces grapple with intensifying violence and an extended standoff with anti-government fighters in the western province of Anbar.

It is likely to raise fresh concerns about the capabilities of Iraq's security forces amid fears the 30 April polls could be partially delayed, as was the case for provincial elections in April 2013.

Six militants wearing suicide vests initially attempted to storm the building, which houses a transport ministry state-owned company, by blowing up a minibus rigged with explosives at the main gate, according to police at the scene.

When the explosion did not go off, one of the attackers blew himself up to clear the way for his fellow militants, followed by a second bomber who set off his vest at an inner gate.

The four remaining fighters then took hostages in the building for several hours before they were eventually killed by security forces, interior ministry spokesperson Brigadier General Saad Maan said.

At least two people were killed in the attack overall, including a policeman, and eight others wounded, according to Maan.

A police colonel and an interior ministry official confirmed the account and the toll.

Read more on:    iraq  |  iraq bombings

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