Eighteen pipeline workers from Iran and Iraq were shot dead on Friday near the northeastern Iraqi city of Baquba, and are suspected to be the work of an Iraqi al-Qaeda affiliate.
According to the BBC, the attackers "sped up in three cars" and then opened fire on workers digging a pipeline trench, killing eighteen and injuring seven. Baquba is about 30 miles northeast of Baghdad.
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“Three of them got out of a car and started firing on the workers inside and outside the trench,” said Ibrahem Aziz, who was wounded in the Diyala province attack, to Reuters.
No group has yet to claim responsibility for the attack, which comes after Iran signed a July deal to construct a pipeline and import gas into Iraq in both Baghdad and Diyala provinces.
In another Friday incident, twenty-two Iraqi suspects held on terrorism charges managed to escape from a northern Baghdad prison, although most of the escapees were eventually recaptured. Eight remain at large, notes the Associated Press.
Unrest in Iraq has hit levels not seen since 2008, as sectarian violence intensifies across the nation, with blame assigned to Al-Qaeda affiliated militants and those harboring domestic grievances, according to AFP.