Uniformed Gunmen Stage Massacre at Iraqi Government Complex

About 20 people were killed during the three-hour hostage ordeal

As many as 20 people were killed when uniformed gunmen stormed a government complex in al-Baghdadi, which is 90 miles northwest of the capital, in Anbar province. Two suicide bombers triggered the attack at about 9:00 a.m., when they detonated their explosives. Other gunmen then followed and seized the complex until soldiers were able to retake it three hours later. Both civilians and police personnel were trapped during the occupation.

It is unclear how many victims were killed in the initial assault or later, but of the about 40 hostages held, as many as 11 were killed. Among them was the police chief. About nine gunmen also died. Conflicting figures are common in Iraq and frequently change after attacks.

Mayor Muhanad Zbar Mutlaq of al-Baghdadi, who was able to lock himself in his bathroom during the ordeal, said he heard one insurgent answer the mayor’s ringing desk phone after a group of gunmen stormed his office. The insurgent told the listener on the other end, “We are the fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq.” The I.S.I is a Sunni militant group connected to al-Qaeda. Although Anbar is predominantly Sunni, the I.S.I. considers police and other security personnel traitors.

Two similar attacks took place. The one in the nearby village of Dolab, failed completely, leaving two gunmen dead, while a third bomber was arrested. In Hit, however, two policemen were killed and another was kidnapped. A vehicle curfew was implemented in the provincial capital of Ramadi, where other such attacks have taken place in recent months. Other cities followed suit.