As of the latest count, thirty-eight people--including three Iraqi lawmakers and a Reuters freelance journalist (pictured above)--have been killed in a hostage siege at a local government building in Tikrit on Tuesday. According to the Associated Press, at least eight armed militants wearing suicide belt bombs and police uniforms overran the compound and attempted to take hostages.
Iraqi security forces launched a raid to take back the building and free the hostages. A fight ensued, resulting in casualties and at least 70 wounded. A suicide car bombing was also reported, notes CNN. "This coordinated attack in Tikrit bears the hallmark of al-Qaeda in Iraq and the attackers were planning to take all members of Salaheddin provincial council as hostages," a senior official with Tikrit police told the cable news outlet.
The death toll--which has risen in news accounts from 21, to 34, to 38--includes three provincial council members who were taken hostage by militants and Sabah al-Bazee, a Reuters freelancer who suffered shrapnel wounds. Authorities have now confirmed that security forces have retaken the building. Luckily, most of the lawmakers who might have been present in the building were absent, because they had already left after their weekly council meeting adjourned early, the AP reports.