Football players of Real Madrid will wear black arm bands on Saturday to mourn the death of more than a dozen members of their fan club who were gunned down by militants of the Islamic State group in Iraq on Friday. The attack took place inside a cafe at Balad, a city about 50 miles north of Baghdad.
The Islamic State group, which is against football, has perpetrated attacks against football enthusiasts in the past as well. An attack on a football stadium in Iskandriyah, southern Baghdad, in March had killing at least 26 people and injured 71.
"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 on Friday. "Suddenly, six armed men stormed into the cafe and started to shoot randomly on the young men. I lay down on the ground."
Apart from the gunmen, two suicide bombers detonated themselves after the police reached the spot, the Associated Press reported. While the officials said 13 people had died, the club said 16 were killed in the attack. Many security personnel were also injured, according to AS English.
The Spanish foreign ministry also condemned the attack on the football lovers. "This is a particularly heinous act because the aim of the terrorists were civilians who gathered for the sole purpose of following a sporting event," the ministry statement said, according to AS English.
The football club, in a statement said, "The club expresses its great sadness and offers its regards and condolences to the families and friends of the victims. Real Madrid extends all of its solidarity to the people of Iraq, who suffer the excessive injustices of extreme violence."
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria had claimed responsibility for the attack.