The Iraqi government established a fact finding committee on Friday night following the martyrdom of at least 16 Iranian gas engineers and workers on Naftshahr-Baghdad gas pipeline project earlier in the night by masked gunmen.
Hassan Dana'iefar, Iran's ambassador to Iraq, told IRNA in early hours of Saturday morning that the fact finding committee was established based on an order issued by the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and it is comprised of Iraqi Army commanders and intelligence officers.
A group of Iranian staffers of the Naftshahr-Baghdad gas pipeline were on Friday evening and at the end of their working hours been attacked by terrorist gunmen while returning for rest to their residence in Alandi district in the south of Khanaqin city in Iraq's Diyala province (75 Km to the north of Baghdad).
"So far the dead bodies of 16 Iranian martyrs of this terrorist attack have been transferred to the Khanaqin cold house, while also four Iraqi workers in the project, too, were martyred," said the Iranian ambassador.
Diyala province in the east of Iraq is among the most insecure parts of the country where the terrorist groups, particularly Al Qaeda, have a noticeable presence.
Dana'iefar said that the attack was aimed at disrupting the efforts aimed at rendering services to the Iraqi nation, and the continuation of effective infrastructure work in Iraq, on time completion of which would lead to greater competence of the Iraqi government.
He said the Friday terrorist act is not considered a move against Iran, arguing, "The group of Iranian engineers and construction workers were working at the service of the oppressed Iraqi people and it is definitely the Iraqi nation that will be benefitted from this project, and therefore, the recent terrorist operation has targeted the Iraqi people."
According to the Iranian envoy, the Naftshahr-Baghdad gas pipeline would resolve many of the problems with which the Iraqi citizens are entangled, including provision of the required energy for the electrical power stations and pumping gas to the Iraqi city networks for homes heating and cooking usages.
Dana'iefar said that intensification of the terrorist operations at the threshold of the Iraqi spring time parliamentary elections is quite likely, calling on the Iraqi political circles to comprehensively and alertly confront the phenomenon.
Gunmen have shot dead 20 people and injured five others working on a gas pipeline from Iran to Iraq, northeast of Baghdad. The majority of those killed were Iranians.
Masked gunmen launched an attack near Baladruz, a small village in the Diyala province of Iraq. It was reported that the group of attackers were driving three vehicles.
The workers, 16 Iranians and four Iraqis, were attacked as they were digging a trench to extend a gas pipeline, the mayor of Muqdadiya, the closest town to the village, told Reuters.
ˈThree of them (terrorists) got out of a car and started firing on the workers inside and outside the trench,ˈ Reuters quoted a man named Ibrahem Aziz as saying.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the assault.