by Thomas Burrows
ISIS gunmen shot dead at least 14 Real Madrid fans at a supporters club in Iraq – because they ‘don’t like football’.
Three terrorists stormed the café hosting the meeting around midnight and opened fire at the fans who had gathered to watch old recordings of the Spanish football club.
Armed with AK-47s, they left bodies strewn across floor in the northern Shi’ite Muslim town of Balad.
Gruesome pictures from the scene show the floor covered in broken glass and soaked in blood under posters of Real Madrid players and coach Zinedine Zidane.
President of the Madrid supporters club, Ziad Subhan, said: ‘A group of Islamic terrorists, from ISIS, came into the café, armed with AK-47s, shooting at random at everyone who was inside’.
When asked about the motive for the attack, the president replied: ‘They don’t like football, they think it’s anti-Muslim. They just carry out attacks like this. This is a terrible tragedy’.
Blood stains are seen on the floor of the Real Madrid supporters cafe, where a picture of coach Zinedine Zidane can be seen hanging on the wall (left)
People gather at the cafe following the slaughter by ISIS – the floor is visibly soaked with blood
Members of the supporters club met to watch old footage of Real Madrid football matches at the cafe
The scorched body of a suspected assailant (pictured) hanging upside down from a pole outside the cafe
Alongside the dead, another 20 people were injured, some of them badly.
Javier Tebas Medrano, president of La Liga, said: ‘Dismayed by the attack against a sentence of Real Madrid [fans] in Iraq. Terrorism attacks the football. We are with the victims and their families.’
Police said one of the gunmen set off his explosive vest at a nearby vegetable market hours later after police and residents cornered him in a disused building.
Four people were killed and two were critically wounded in the shoot-out.
The scorched body of a suspected gunman was found hanging upside down from a post outside the cafe yesterday.
Residents said they had seized a man who confessed to the attack from a nearby house and burned him alive.
ISIS said the attack was the latest in a campaign to honour Abdel Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, the group’s second-in-command, who was killed in a coalition strike in March.
Gruesome scenes show broken glass and blood stains on the ground following the horrific incident
The aftermath of the massacre that left the floors smeared in blood and bullet holes in the armchairs
Three gunmen armed with machine guns opened fire into the crowded Balad cafe packed with Madrid fans
The floors of the cafe were covered in blood after ISIS gunmen stormed it and fired at the football fans
Blood stains are left by a pole outside the cafe following the slaughter that left 14 football fans dead
The storming of the cafe was a shift in tactic from the suicide car bombings ISIS has used to inflict maximum casualties in Shi’ite towns and cities.
ISIS nearly overran Balad, 80 km (50 miles) northof Baghdad, in 2014 and maintains a frontline around 40 km away.
Police were on high alert as it emerged the gunmen had passed three checkpointsbefore reaching their target.
Following the attack, security forces were deployed throughout the town.
The attack took place in Balad, about 50 miles north of Baghdad at a Real Madrid supporters club
It comes after at least 93 people were killed in three car bomb attacks in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad yesterday.
The deadliest killed 64 people and wounded 87 in a market in the mainly Shia Muslim area of Sadr City.
Police and witnesses said the explosives were hidden under fruit and vegetables loaded on a pick-up trick.
Later two suicide bombers targeted police checkpoints in the northern district of Kadhimiya and in Jamia, in the west, leaving 29 dead.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks in what was the worst day of violence in Baghdad so far this year.
The Sunni jihadist group, which controls large swathes of northern and western Iraq, has frequently targeted Shia, whom it considers apostates.
While ISIS has suffered a number of territorial defeats in the past year, the militants are still capable of launching significant attacks across the country, and have recently stepped-up assaults inside Baghdad, something officials say is an attempt to distract from their recent battlefield defeats.