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15 troops killed in strike on Iraqi base

BAGHDAD: Attacks by five suicide bombers on an Iraqi military base north of Baghdad on Sunday killed at least 15 members of the security forces and wounded 22 others, security sources said.

Two of the bombers detonated their vehicle-borne explosives at the western gate of Camp Speicher, a former US base outside the city of Tikrit.

Three others exploded themselves after entering the section of the base where Iraqi police were being trained, police and military sources in the Salahuddin operations command said.

The militant Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the blasts in a statement distributed by supporters online.

It said it targeted “trainers from the rejectionist army”, a term used by the militants to describe Shias.

Iraq is gripped by a sectarian conflict mostly between Shias and Sunnis that has been exacerbated by the rise of the IS.

Camp Speicher became a symbol of the group’s brutality after as many as 1,700 soldiers from the base were killed in mid-2014 during the militants’ lightning advance across the region.

Iraqi forces retook the centre of the western city of Ramadi last week, a victory that could help boost Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who has been rebuilding the military after stunning defeats in the face of IS offensives.

Iraq’s Defence Ministry said IS has stepped up suicide blasts in response to setbacks in Ramadi. It said in a statement the group had used 22 bombers in two recent failed attacks in Anbar where Ramadi is located.

The military responded by killing at least 42 militants including the bombers, the ministry said.

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