Gunmen disguised in Iraqi military uniforms have killed seven pro-government and anti-al-Qaeda militiamen in the northern province of Salahuddin.
The masked attackers dragged Sahwa (Awakening) fighters from their beds at a checkpoint near the town of Tuz Khurmato, situated 170 kilometers (105 miles) north of Baghdad, early on Friday, killed seven of them, and seriously wounded an eighth, Reuters reported.
“The seven dead bodies were in the same place. Each had a deadly shot to the head, but the eighth one had several shots in the back,” a policeman at the scene, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
The Sahwa forces fought against al-Qaeda from 2006 to 2008.
The al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq network has often targeted Sahwa fighters.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq is a shadowy group that was once allegedly led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was reportedly killed in June 2006.
According to US government and military officials, after al-Zarqawiâ€™s death, the groupâ€™s leadership fell to Ayyub al-Masri, who was killed, along with Abu Omar al-Baghdadi — another leader of the group — in a joint operation by Iraqi and US troops in Salahuddin province in April 2010.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq has been blamed for some of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the country since the US-led invasion in March 2003.