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Attack in southern Iraq kills at least seven

An attack claimed by the Islamic State group on a police checkpoint in southern Iraq left at least seven people dead on Sunday, officials said.

Gunmen wearing suicide vests and driving an explosives-laden vehicle opened fire on the checkpoint near the town of Qadisiyah, which lies around 180 kilometres (110 miles) south of Baghdad.

"The security forces fought back, killing the attackers and blowing up the car," an interior ministry statement said.

"They were planning to head to Najaf to blow themselves up there," interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan said, referring to a holy Shiite city around 40 kilometres (25 miles) to the north.

Maan said seven people were killed by the attackers and 15 wounded. He said five policemen were among the dead.

The military commander for the area, Major General Qais al-Rahaima, gave the same death toll and said at least 11 were wounded.

Jihadist attacks in the overwhelmingly Shiite south of Iraq are rare but there have been infiltrations from the western desert of Anbar in recent months.

Najaf is considered a religious capital for Iraq's Shiite majority and has always been seen as a major potential target for IS, which views Shiites as heretics.

The jihadist group claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack in a statement that said five of its suicide attackers had been killed and putting the number of victims killed and wounded at 100.

The group had also claimed twin bombings at a market area in central Baghdad on Saturday that left at least 27 people dead and more than 50 wounded.

Topics: Iraq , conflict , attack
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