At least thirteen people have been killed and 15 others injured after gunmen wearing suicide vests opened fire on a café filled with Real Madrid supporters in the Iraqi town of Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, and detonated their explosive devices. The militant group, the Islamic State (Isis) claimed responsibility for the attack.
AP reported that the suicide bombers began firing indiscriminately into a crowd outside the café, just after midnight on Thursday 12 May. The pair targeted Iraqi security forces as they responded to the assault, the militants detonating their suicide vests as police arrived on the scene.
The Spanish sporting newspaper AS reported that at least 50 Real Madrid supporters were inside at the time of the attack. The group of fans reportedly gathered at the spot to watch recordings of old games when no live football was available.
The newspaper quoted the president of the surrounding area's Real Madrid supporter's club, Ziad Subhan, as saying: "A group of Islamic terrorists, from ISIS, came into the café, armed with AK-47s, shooting at random at everyone who was inside".
He added: "They don't like football, they think it's anti-Muslim. They just carry out attacks like this. This is a terrible tragedy".
The attack comes two days after the worst violence seen in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad so far in 2016, as 90 were killed in multiple blasts across city.
At least 63 people were killed in the majority Shia area of the Sadr city (a district of Baghdad). IS, a Sunni group which has seen its territory and influence shrink in Iraq, has sought to exacerbate the country's sectarian divide by targeting Shia areas.
Yesterday (12 May) two suicide bombers attacked a police station in Abu Ghraib, 15 miles west of Baghdad, approaching the building from different directions. Security officials said a third assailant was killed before any of the attackers, who wore suicide vests, were able to enter the police station. Eight other individuals were wounded in the blasts.
The IS onslaught has placed further pressure on embattled Iraqi president Haider al-Abadi who has faced widespread protest from the country's Shia majority.