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Iraq: Suspected militants kill eight civilians near Baghdad

Officials blame Islamic State group as gunmen on motorbikes open fire in Iraqi town of Khalis
People ride in vehicles in the town of Khalis, in Iraq's Diyala province, on 3 July 2022 (AFP)
People ride in vehicles in the town of Khalis, in Iraq's Diyala province, on 3 July 2022 (AFP)

Gunmen on motorbikes shot dead at least eight civilians in the northern Diyala province of Iraq on Monday, officials confirmed. 

Seven others were wounded as assailants opened fire in the village of Albu Bali, located in the town of Khalis, 80km north of Baghdad.

No groups took immediate responsibility for the attacks, but officials in the province blamed militants from the Islamic State (IS) group. 

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"The village is inhabited by farmers... dozens of residents mobilised to defend against the terrorist attack," Odai al-Khadran, mayor of Khalis, told Iraq’s official INA news agency. 

IS seized large swathes of Iraqi and Syrian territory from 2014, declaring a "caliphate" where they ruled with brutality until being defeated by Iraqi forces backed by a US-led military coalition in 2017.

Villagers in the Khalis area formed a paramilitary group to defend their land against the militants in 2014. 

Monday’s attack came just a day after IS claimed responsibility for the killing of nine Iraqi federal policemen in a bomb attack on their convoy near the city of Kirkuk. 

Despite major setbacks in recent years, IS still calls on between 6,000 and 10,000 fighters to carry out attacks on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border, according to a UN report. 

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