A group of Real Madrid supporters were attacked and gunned down at a cafe in Iraq Friday, according to an official announcement on the team's website. The assailants, three men armed with machine guns, opened fire at the al-Furat Cafe in Balad this morning, killing 16 and injuring as many as 30 others. The Islamic State has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack, according to BBC.
There were about 50 people in the cafe. The attackers fled the scene and were pursued by militiamen; one of them later blew himself up after being cornered, killing four of the militiamen.
"A group of Islamic terrorists, from ISIS, came into the cafe, armed with AK-47s, shooting at random at everyone who was inside," said the president of the Real Madrid supporters' group, Ziad Subhan.
It was not immediately clear if the attack was tied to the Real Madrid supporters' soccer fandom. ISIS reportedly said the attack targeted militiamen, but there are also reports that ISIS does not like football and thinks it is anti-Muslim. Real Madrid said its players will wear symbolic black armbands as a tribute during their game against Deportivo Saturday.
The president of Spain's La Liga, Javier Tebas Medrano, tweeted "terrorism has attacked football" and "we were going to travel this month [to Iraq], but it was put off for security reasons."
Balad, located about 50 miles north of Baghdad, was also attacked by ISIS in June 2014.
"Today Madridismo across the whole world cries for its supporters, who shall never be forgotten," Real Madrid's release stated.
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