Armed men stormed into a Christian church in central Baghdad on Sunday, detonating three bombs before exchanging fire with security forces and possibly taking hostages in the church, a security official said.
Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, spokesman for the Baghdad operations command told Reuters the attack took place in the Our Lady of Salvation church.
Al-Baghdadiya television station said it had received a phone call from someone claiming to be one of the attackers, who demanded the release of all al Qaeda prisoners in Iraq and Egypt. The caller said the attackers belonged to the Islamic State of Iraq, an al Qaeda umbrella group in Iraq.
Some police sources said two security guards were killed in Sunday's attack, which began with at least one loud explosion near the Assyrian Catholic church.Some police sources said they believed the initial target was the nearby Iraqi stock exchange. Iraq's Interior Department said at least 37 people were killed during Sunday's church standoff, including at least seven hostages. More than 50 others were wounded.
Iraqi officials said they also arrested eight gunmen.