BAGHDAD:A suicide bomber blew up himself on Wednesday among a group of pro-government, anti-Islamic State group Sunni militias near Baghdad, killing at least 22 people, a latest bold attack by militants seeking to undermine government efforts to fight extremists.
The attacker managed to mingle with the militiamen who gathered at a military base in the town of Madain to receive their monthly payment, two police officers said. At least 15 of the dead were Sunni militiamen and the rest were soldiers, while 55 others were wounded, they said.
The town is located about 20 kilometers (14 miles) south of Baghdad.
The group, known as Sahwa or the Awakening Councils, is made up of Sunni militiamen who joined U.S. troops in the fight against al-Qaida during the height of Iraq’s insurgency in 2007 and 2008. They are viewed as traitors by the Sunni militants.
Three medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information to the media.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, but it bore the hallmark of the Islamic State group, which captured large swaths of western and northern Iraq in a summer blitz. The militant group’s onslaught has become Iraq’s worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops.