BAGHDAD, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Up to seven people were killed and 15 injured on Sunday when suicide bombers attacked a town near the holy Shiite city of Najaf in central Iraq, sources said.
The attack occurred shortly after 7:00 am (0400 GMT) when a vehicle carrying five armed man in military uniforms and wearing explosive vests attacked a checkpoint at the entrance of the town of al-Qadsiyah, some 70 km southwest of Najaf, a local security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Two of the suicide bombers blew up their explosive vests at the checkpoint to pave the way for the vehicle to enter the town, but the security forces stopped them sparking heavy clashes that resulted in the killing of the other three suicide bombers and destroying their vehicle, the source said.
For his part, Lu'ay al-Yasiry, the governor of Najaf province said in a brief statement that the security situation in al-Qadsiyah town is under control after the security forces killed all the attackers.
Later in the day, the Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on Islamic websites. It said four of its fighters had opened fire before detonating explosive vests and then a fifth fighter detonated the vehicle, which was loaded with explosives.
The attacks came as the Iraqi security forces backed by anti-IS international coalition were carrying out a major offensive to drive out the IS militants from its last major stronghold in and around Mosul.
Many blame the current chronic instability, cycle of violence, and the emergence of extremist groups, such as the IS, on the U.S., which invaded and occupied Iraq in March 2003.