Middle East

Iraq: Dozens killed in siege at Tikrit council

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At least 53 people have been killed after gunmen stormed a council building in northern Iraq and took dozens of hostages.

Security forces laid siege to the building in Tikrit for several hours before moving in, officials say.

Several council members and a journalist are said to be among the dead, while about 100 people were reported to be wounded.

Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, has been a bastion of a Sunni insurgency.

Officials said gunmen dressed in military uniform stormed the provincial council building after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside.

A long siege then began. Salahuddin provincial spokesman Mohammed al-Asi said the gunmen executed their hostages as security forces closed in.

It is not clear how many of the dead are hostages and how many are their captors.

One official told Reuters that the building had been busy when the gunmen stormed in because the council was holding a meeting.

Another Salahuddin government spokesman was reported as saying that some officials and government workers had managed to escape before the gunmen could capture them.

A curfew had been imposed over Tikrit, officials said.