BAGHDAD – Gunmen singled out seven Shiite Muslims out swimming in Iraq’s north and shot them in a targeted sectarian attack, officials said Saturday.
Shalal Abdoul, mayor of the town of Tuz Khormato, said the attack happened outside the nearby Shiite Turkmen village of Amerili. The attackers arrived on motorcycles and executed the Shiites after separating them from Sunni Arabs, whom they allowed to go free, he said.
“The terrorists want to ignite sectarian strife in our area. Today’s attack carries a sectarian message,” Abdoul said.
Tuz Khormato is about 130 miles north of Baghdad. Tuz Khormato police Capt. Mazin Abdullah confirmed the attack.
Violence has ebbed in Iraq since its height between 2005 and 2008, but lethal attacks continue to occur almost daily. Attacks against Iraqi Shiites are often blamed on al-Qaida’s Iraqi branch, which has declared its intention to take back areas from which the U.S. and its local allies expelled the militants.
Most Iraqi Shiites are Arabs. Turkmen are one of the country’s minority ethnic groups, and they include both Sunnis and Shiites.