12 Real Madrid fans killed by Islamic State in Iraq cafe
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12 Real Madrid fans killed by Islamic State in Iraq cafe

For second time in a month, terror group targets soccer club’s supporters; team’s president dedicates championship win to those killed

Young supporters of the Real Madrid football club  celebrate their team's victory in the Champions League final on May 28, 2016 in the Iraqi town of Balad, two weeks after their fan club was hit by a deadly shooting attack officials say left 16 people dead. (AFP)

 
The deadly attack was claimed by the Islamic State group and sparked an outpouring of sympathy from the football world. / AFP PHOTO / Jean-Marc Mojon
Young supporters of the Real Madrid football club celebrate their team's victory in the Champions League final on May 28, 2016 in the Iraqi town of Balad, two weeks after their fan club was hit by a deadly shooting attack officials say left 16 people dead. (AFP) The deadly attack was claimed by the Islamic State group and sparked an outpouring of sympathy from the football world. / AFP PHOTO / Jean-Marc Mojon

A suicide bomber blew himself up on Sunday among young Iraqi fans of Real Madrid assembled in a cafe in Moqdadiyah, northeast of Baghdad, killing at least 12, police said.

The Islamic State group, which swept through large parts of Iraq two years ago but no longer holds fixed positions in Diyala province where Moqdadiyah is located, said it carried out the attack.

A hospital official in Moqdadiyah, 80 kilometres (50 miles) northeast of the capital, confirmed the casualty toll.

“Abu Ifan al-Moslawi, may God accept him, was able to… blow up his explosive belt,” IS said in a statement published on social media, adding that the blast had left 30 dead and wounded.

The interior ministry said the explosion occurred in a market area.

The attack happened despite the bomber’s picture being put up at checkpoints all over town after his mother tipped off the security services, the ministry also said in a statement.

Moqdadiyah is in the religiously and ethnically mixed province of Diyala, which the government declared free of IS in January 2015 but which has continued to see suicide and car bomb blasts since.

IS claimed an attack on May 13 on a cafe packed with supporters of Real Madrid football club in the town of Balad that killed 16 people.

On Sunday, Real Madrid’s president Florentino Perez dedicated the club’s 11th Champions success to the slain fans and their families.

“Last night’s triumph is dedicated to the victims of the massacres in Iraq,” Perez said. “Football should always be an area of tolerance, not of violence.”

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