- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
- Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros
- Senators: Cease-fire must allow Israel to defend against rockets, tunnels
- Sierra Leone doctor fighting Ebola catches disease
- Iraq welcomes Russian fighter jets, helicopter gunships into ISIL fight
- John McCain laments: Obama’s ‘self-pity … is really kind of sad’
- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
- Paul Ryan offers to repair U.S. economic safety net with a single grant stream
- Kim Jong-un builds bond with Putin: $250M Russia-backed addition to key port opens
- Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death
Hostages killed execution-style in Iraq siege
Question of the Day
BAGHDAD (AP) — Gunmen wearing explosives belts under military uniforms took hostages at a local government headquarters in Saddam Hussein’s hometown, killing 15 of them execution-style before blowing themselves up in a fiery end to an hourslong siege, Iraqi officials said. In all, 45 people were killed.
The attackers set fire to the bodies of three slain councilmen at the Salahuddin provincial council headquarters in Tikrit, said the province’s media adviser, Mohammed al-Asi. Among the lawmakers was an official who was known for his tough stance against al Qaeda in Iraq, which some officials blamed for the attack. Another was an elderly politician who headed the council’s committee on religion.
“He was just an old man — he did nothing,” Mr. al-Asi said in an interview, trying to keep from weeping. “Why did they shoot him and set fire to his poor body?”
Salahuddin Gov. Ahmed Abdullah called the attack “a tragic incident carried out by ruthless terrorists.”
Also among the dead was Iraqi journalist Sabah al-Bazi, a correspondent for Al-Arabiya satellite TV channel and a freelancer for CNN and Reuters, according to the three news outlets.
Officials said the standoff in Tikrit, located 80 miles north of Baghdad, began around 1 p.m. (6 a.m. EDT) when the attackers blew up a car outside the council headquarters to create a diversion before launching their raid.
Wearing military uniforms — including one with a high rank — the gunmen identified themselves as Iraqi soldiers at a security checkpoint outside the government compound but opened fire on guards when they were told they needed to be searched.
The provincial council meets at the headquarters every Tuesday, but a spokesman for the governor, Ali Abdul Rihman, said local lawmakers ended their discussion early because there was little on their agenda. As a result, he said, most of the lawmakers already had left the headquarters when the assault began.
“The gunmen were armed with grenades and began their raid by firing at random at a reception room,” Mr. Rihman said. “Then they opened fire inside.”
The governor described a fierce shootout between at least eight gunmen, who overtook the bulding’s second floor, and Iraqi security forces who surrounded the building. He said the attackers were hurling grenades at Iraqi forces.
Dr. Raied Ibrahim, the Salahuddin health director, said the attackers killed 45 people and wounded 98 in the attack that lasted more than five hours.
A senior intelligence official in Baghdad likened the attack to a horrifying hostage raid last fall on a Catholic church in Baghdad that left 68 dead and stunned the nation. An al-Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility for that massacre on Oct. 31, which drove thousands of Iraq’s already dwindling Christian population from their homeland in fear.
City policemen said U.S. troops were at the scene to assist Iraqi forces, but a spokesman for the American military in Baghdad could not immediately verify that information.
TWT Video Picks
By Michael Widlanski
Leveling the battlefield to aid terrorists enables evil to fight on
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Norway expects imminent 'concrete threat' from ISIL terrorists 'within days'
- State Department indicates Nouri al-Maliki's days numbered as Iraq prime minister
- Evidence shows Russia firing artillery into Ukraine: Pentagon
- Algerian plane diverted due to storms, second aircraft: 116 missing
- Russia sends Iraq fighter jets, helicopter gunships for ISIL fight after meeting in Moscow
- Tom Petty: 'No one's got Christ more wrong than the Christians'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq