Iraqi soldiers killed in pre-dawn attack

Photo: Iraqi soldiers killed in pre-dawn attack / Arab World

A pre-dawn attack on an army encampment guarding an oil pipeline in northern Iraq killed 15 soldiers on Tuesday as authorities grapple with near-daily attacks and running battles with militants, Agence France-Presse reported.

Insurgents early Tuesday morning entered the army encampment in Nineveh province and killing all 15 soldiers at the site before fleeing the scene, according to a police officer and a morgue official who spoke to AFP.

The encampment was set up to guard an oil pipeline near Hamam al-Alil, a town that is is regularly hit by militant attacks, Al Arabiya reported.

The style of the attack, targeting a station housing security forces guarding an important piece of infrastructure, mirrored that of a similar shooting in the northern town of Tuz Khurmatu on Sunday in which six policemen were killed.

In that incidence, the policemen were forced to pray in front of their attackers, who wanted to establish that the police were Shiite Muslims before killing them, AFP reported.

The latest attack comes as unrest in Iraq is at its worst since 2008. The continuing spate of violence has fuelled fears that, with elections due in April, the country is on the brink of slipping back into sectarian violence.

Government figures show that more than 1,000 people were killed last month alone.

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