ERBIL, (Kurdistan 24) – Unidentified gunmen killed at least 8 and wounded several more when they opened fire on unarmed civilians on Tuesday in the town of Tarmiyah, 25 km north of Iraq's capital of Baghdad.
The attackers were suspected to be members of the Islamic State (IS), but it was not until extremists from the group claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement Wednesday that the suspicions appeared confirmed. In the statement, the group said that they killed 20 people in the attack, including Hashd al-Shaabi fighters, and wounded 10 others.
Late Tuesday, the gunmen entered the Ramadan 14 neighborhood of Tarmiyah and started shooting, a security source told local news.
Witnesses initially gave conflicting casualty numbers, with various news agencies reporting between 5 and 20 killed.
A brief military statement read, “Security forces stopped this terrorist gang.”
An unnamed security source gave more detail to the press, saying, “The troops immediately rushed to the shooting scene and sealed off all entrances and exits of the district,” adding that a manhunt to apprehend the attackers was underway.
Another security statement denied "all reports on the spread of terrorist gangs" in Tarmiyah, claiming the area was under their control.
Since the military defeat of IS in late 2017, shooting, bombing, and kidnapping incidents have been on the rise.
It is often assumed that attacks like the one in Tarmiyah are carried out by those loyal to the jihadi group, but multiple criminal gangs operating across Iraq are also sometimes responsible for violent incidents.
Editing by John J. Catherine