BAGHDAD, (AP) – Gunmen wearing military uniforms and suicide bomb belts stormed a local government headquarters in northern Iraq on Tuesday in an attempt to take hostages that killed at least 10 people, officials said.
Three lawmakers who were inside the Salahuddin provincial council building in Tikrit when the gunmen overran the compound are missing, said provincial governor Ahmed Abdullah. He said the lawmakers were not answering their mobile phones and could not immediately be located — indicating they may be held hostage.
“We’ve lost contact with three provincial council members who were inside the building when the attack took place,” Abdullah said in a telephone interview from Amman, Jordan, where he was receiving updates on the assault via mobile phone.
He described a fierce shootout between the gunmen, who have overtaken the council headquarters’ second floor, and Iraqi security forces who surrounded the building. He said the attackers were also hurling grenades at Iraqi forces.
The governor said 10 people were killed in the siege.
A senior intelligence official gave a higher toll of 12 dead and said as many as 60 were wounded. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
Authorities said 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.
Salahuddin government spokesman Ali al-Saleh said at least some officials and government employees escaped before the gunmen could capture them.
Tikrit is located 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Baghdad.