Middle East

Baghdad alcohol shops caught in deadly attacks

Media captionIraq alcohol sellers targeted by Baghdad gunmen

Gunmen using silenced weapons have attacked a row of alcohol shops in Baghdad, leaving 10 people dead, officials say.

The attackers arrived in four vehicles and restrained policemen at a checkpoint in the eastern district of Zayouna, where the stores are located.

They reportedly struck when the shops were at their busiest, as commuters on their way home stopped to buy drinks.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

All of the dead and four left critically wounded were Christians working in the shops. The gunmen allowed customers to leave unharmed.

Police were quoted as saying the shops had been rebuilt after they were targeted in bomb attacks last year.

Security forces and eye witnesses described the attack as happening very quickly, the BBC's Aleem Maqbool reports from Baghdad.

Officials initially said 12 people had been killed in Tuesday's attack.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, activities perceived to be contrary to the moral code of Islam have come under repeated attack, with alcohol shops targeted in Baghdad and other cities.

Islamist militants in Iraq have stepped up attacks in recent months.

However, levels of violence remain well below their peak in 2006-2007.