SIX suicide bombers burst into an Iraqi ministry building, took hostages and killed at least 24 people including themselves on Thursday before security forces regained control, security officials said.
The brazen attack on the building belonging to the Ministry of Transportation in northeast Baghdad coincided with a month-long standoff between the Iraqi army and anti-government fighters in the western province of Anbar.
No group claimed responsibility. State buildings are a target for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and its allies, regaining momentum in a campaign to destabilise the Shia Muslim-led government.
A senior security source said the six militants took a number of hostages, most of them members of the Facilities Protection Service, and killed nine of them inside the building, which was used to receive visiting delegations.
Four bombers detonated their explosives vests during the assault, a fifth was shot dead by security forces and the last died shortly after being shot, according to security officials.
“The level of security measures in the building was less than normal because it is a service building and not a sensitive site,” another senior security official told Reuters.
A further 50 people were wounded in the attack. An Interior Ministry statement gave out a lower death toll – eight, including the six bombers.
Security officials blamed ISIL for the attack.