At least eight people dead after armed men explode car bombs outside building and briefly take hostages in Iraqi city.
|Gunmen have stormed an Iraqi provincial council building in Baquba after two car bombs exploded outside, killing at least eight people and wounding dozens more, police and health officials said. |
Two car bombs were set off outside the government compound in the city, after which armed men attacked the building and took hostages.
Large numbers of Iraqi police and soldiers were deployed to the scene, with military helicopters hovering overhead and periodically firing onto the building during the siege, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said that the hostage taking appeared to have ended following the efforts of Iraqi security forces.
"According to officials the building was stormed by Iraqi security forces, special forces and the Iraqi army, who killed three attackers and wounded a fourth," she said.
"One witness says American forces joined them. The Americans say that is not true."
The attack closely mirrored a similar March 29 incident, claimed by al-Qaeda, on Salaheddin governorate offices in Tikrit that left 58 people dead.
An official at Diyala's security command centre initially said dozens of gunmen took part in Tuesday's raid, but Baquba police later said as few as five may have been involved.
Arraf said the events took place during a weekly council meeting of provincial council members, but many of them did not show up having been warned of the possibility of an attack.
The attack in the Diyala province's capital, located 60km northeast of Baghdad, is the latest test for Iraqi forces as they prepare for the planned withdrawal of US troops at the end of the year.
Al Jazeera and agencies