Feedback
News

Real Madrid Mourns Soccer Fans Killed in Attack on Cafe in Iraq

The soccer club Real Madrid will wear black armbands Saturday to mourn 16 members of a team supporters club killed by ISIS gunmen in an attack on a café in Iraq.

“We were around 50 fans of Real Madrid, gathered in a cafe in Balad in order to discuss our arrangement for tomorrow's team football match,” eyewitness Ahmed Tha'er told NBC News Friday. "Suddenly, six armed men stormed into the cafe and started to shoot randomly on the young men. I laid down on the ground."

The attack on the café in Balad, a city about 50 miles north of Baghdad, occurred early Friday morning. The gunmen included two suicide bombers who detonated explosive vests after police arrived, Iraqi officials told The Associated Press.

Image: People gather at a cafe after an attack in the predominately Shi'ite Muslim town of Balad
People gather at a cafe after an attack in the predominately Shi'ite Muslim town of Balad, Iraq, May 13 2016. Reuters

Fourteen people were killed outright, and two more died of their wounds later, Tha'er said. Officials told the AP earlier Friday that 13 were killed, but the football club said 16 supporters were killed.

The terror group ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack hours after the attack, according to the AP.

"We met at midnight, but if those terrorists arrived one hour before that they would kill more young men, because many fans left the cafe," Tha'er said.

It is not the first time ISIS has targeted soccer fans. In March, a suicide bomber attacked a soccer stadium in Iskandriyah, southern Baghdad, killing at least 26 people and wounding 71.

The attack on the café came on the heels of a two-day wave of bombings in Baghdad that killed nearly 100 people — attacks that have also been claimed by the Islamic State group. The deadliest struck the sprawling Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in northeast Baghdad on Wednesday, killing 63 people.

Real Madrid players will wear black armbands in Saturday’s match "as a sign of their mourning and respect," the club said.

"The club expresses its great sadness and offers its regards and condolences to the families and friends of the victims,” Real Madrid said in a statement Friday.

“Real Madrid extends all of its solidarity to the people of Iraq, who suffer the excessive injustices of extreme violence,” the club said.