Anti-al-Qaeda militia killed in new Iraq attack

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At least 19 people have been killed in a suicide bomb attack in central Iraq aimed at pro-government militia, officials say.

More than 40 people were injured in the blast in the town of Taji, about 20km (12 miles) north of Baghdad.

The majority of the victims were members of the Sunni Sahwa militia, which has been fighting al-Qaeda.

The attack comes a day after at least 16 people were killed in a raid on a police HQ in Kirkuk, northern Iraq.

'Pools of blood'

Monday's blast happened at about 11:00 local time (08:00 GMT), as the militiamen gathered to collect their pay.

The attacker is believed to have detonated his explosives belt among the crowd.

Army soldiers were also among the victims.

"We got a call there had been a huge blast at the Sahwa headquarters," local police officer Furat Faleh told Reuters news agency.

"People were lying bleeding all around and cash was scattered in pools of blood," he added.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Sahwa - or Awakening Council - are comprised of Sunni tribal members who sided with the US against al-Qaeda in 2006.

They have been often targeted by al-Qaeda-linked militants, who regard them as traitors.

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