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Insurgents kill 20 troops in Iraq barracks

BAGHDAD — Militants in Iraq launched an audacious attack on a military barracks in a remote area in the country’s north and killed 20 troops overnight, including some who had been bound and shot at close range, authorities said Sunday as other attacks killed 18.

The killings at the military barracks in the village of Ayn al-Jahish outside of Mosul mirrored two assaults earlier this year in the area targeting security forces. It also represents the latest blow to the government’s efforts to achieve stability in restive Sunni-dominated areas.

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Gunmen staged the assault Saturday night, two police officers said, shooting some at short range while others died fighting the insurgents when they stormed the barracks. A medical official, who confirmed the casualty number, said 11 troops had their hands tied behind their backs and had close-range gunshots to the head.

The slain troops are in charge of guarding an oil pipeline that sends crude oil to global markets and guarding a nearby highway. Attacks on the pipeline are common in that area near Mosul, about 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the barracks attack. But, it mirrored a February attack claimed by Al Qaeda-breakaway group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. In that one, fighters killed 15 soldiers at the barracks, beheading some of them.

In April, militants killed at least 10 soldiers at a base outside of Mosul.

Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, is a former insurgent stronghold. It was Al Qaeda’s last major urban stronghold in the country before US troops wrested it back in 2008. However, Sunni insurgent groups remain strong in the region.

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