Militants stormed a college today in Iraq's Anbar province and briefly took students hostage and killed three police security guards before withdrawing.
Hundreds of students were inside the Anbar University compound, one of the largest colleges in the country, when the attack occurred early this morning, according to police and government officials.
After shooting down three officers stationed outside the gates, black-clad gunmen who identified themselves as members of a Sunni muslim terror group associated with al Qaeda called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, took dozens of students hostage in a university dorm.
One of the students taken, Ahmed al-Mehamdi, told the Associated Press that the Shiite students on campus were terrified, until several hours later when the gunmen retreated and they were able to flee.
Photographs posted the University's Facebook page show students later being released and taken in by local residents.
"We thank God that this crisis ended almost peacefully and no student was hurt as far as I know," al-Mehamdi said.
Security forces shot at retreating militants as they left the school, who returned gunfire. Circumstances of the retreat are not known.
"Not a single student or a university staff member was hurt during the raid. All of them went home and their ordeal is over," Sabah Karhout, the head of Anbar's provincial council told reporters.
The attack in Anbar comes amid clashes between Sunni Muslim militants and the Shiite-led government in Iraq.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has carried out multiple deadly attacks in the country as well as neighboring Syria where it is fighting with other rebels to oust President Bashar Assad.
Elsewhere in Iraq, violence continued for a second day in the northern city of Mosul, where Sunni militants are also seeking to seize control.
At least 21 police officers and 38 militants have been killed since dawn, according to police and morgue officials.
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