The Real Madrid supporters club in Iraq suffered a terrorist attack this morning, at its branch in the town of Balad, near the city of Samarra, 125 kilometers north of Baghdad. Latest reports say 16 people were killed and 30 injured, including several members of the security forces, some of them seriously.
50 Real Madrid supporters in the club
At the time of the attack around 50 Real Madrid supporters were in the club. The members meet there for coffee and to watch old Real Madrid games when there isn't live football on.
AS spoke to the president of the Real Madrid supporters club in Balad, Ziad Subhan: "A group of Islamic terrorists, from ISIS, came into the café, armed with AK-47s, shooting at random at everyone who was inside".
Asked about the motives for the attack, the president said: "They don't like football, they think it's anti-Muslim. They just carry out attacks like this. This is a terrible tragedy".
Officials said the gunmen were from the Islamic State group, which claimed the attack in an online statement.
"A group of armed men from Daesh (an Arabic acronym for IS) disguised in security forces uniforms attacked a cafe in Balad at around midnight, using grenades and gunfire," Ammar Hekmat al-Baldawi, a deputy governor of Salaheddin province, told AFP.
"They fled to a nearby farming area. They blew themselves up when the security forces and some residents chased them and got close," he said.
Baldawi said the attack took at place around midnight (2100 GMT on Thursday) and that the hunt for some of the attackers was ongoing.
"There were five or six attackers -- four of them blew themselves up. The hunt is not over because we think there could be up to two of them still on the run," he said.
He said 16 people were killed, including several members of the police and the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary organisation that includes most Shiite militias.
The Spanish foreign ministry issued a statement condemning "in the strongest terms the terrorist attack carried out today against a Real Madrid supporters club".
"This is a particularly heinous act because the aim of the terrorists were civilians who gathered for the sole purpose of following a sporting event," the statement said.
The president of the Spanish Football League, Javier Tebas, also reacted by saying "football continues to be a target of terror".
Real Madrid official statement
Real Madrid issued an official statement lamenting the tragic incident. (Only in Spanish at present). The club announced the players will wear black arm bands as a mark of respect during tomorrow's Liga game against Depor.