21 al-Qaeda-linked militants including a suicide bomber have been killed as a car bomb mistakenly exploded in a militant compound north of Baghdad, an anti-Qaeda militia leader and a police officer said.
The al-Qaeda-linked militants were filming a propaganda video of the would-be suicide attacker when a technical glitch set off the car bomb in the Jilam area south of Samarra, according to Majeed Ali, the head of the Sahwa militia force in the city, and a police officer.
Jilam, a mostly rural farming area just south of the city of Samarra, has long been a militant stronghold.
The bomb went off within a compound in the area at 8:00 am (0500 GMT), Ali and the police officer said.
Violence has surged markedly higher in recent months, with more than 1,000 people killed in January alone according to government data.
Al-Qaeda-linked militants are pursuing a campaign of attacks, mostly directed at state targets, civilians seen as loyal to the government.
Militants, emboldened by the conflict in neighboring Syria, have sought to position themselves as the champions against the Iraqi government, though major tribes in Anbar and elsewhere oppose the group’s extremist ideology and are fighting against it.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has previously called for national unity among Iraqis in the war against al-Qaeda.