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Real Madrid fans massacred in Iraq

Real Madrid's Champions League triumph has been marred by an attack on the club's fans in Iraq. It's the second time in recent weeks that fans have been targeted by Islamist extremists.

A suicide attacker targeting a cafe popular with sports fans killed at least seven people on Sunday, Iraqi police said.

Young fans had assembled in a cafe in Moqdadiyah, northeast of Baghdad, to celebrate the

victory of Real Madrid over rival Atletico Madrid

in the Champions League football final.

This is the second attack targeting soccer fans in recent weeks. Some 16 Real Madrid fans were killed two weeks ago after their supporters' club in the town of Balad was targeted by suspected militants from the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) group.

Real Madrid's president Florentino Perez dedicated the club's 11th Champions success to the slain fans and their families.

"Last night's triumph is dedicated to the victims of the massacres in Iraq," Perez said. "Football should always be an area of tolerance, not of violence."

Second deadly attack in two weeks

Irak Fußballfans von Real Madrid in Balad

Real Madrid supporters in Balad celebrate their team's victory in the Champions League on May 28, two weeks after their fan club was hit by a deadly attack

A social media account carried a statement by IS claiming responsibility for the attack.

The deadly bombing was carried out despite the attacker's mother alerting authorities of her son's dark motives and the man's picture posted at checkpoints around town, according to the Iraqi interior ministry.

Moqdadiyah is in the religiously and ethnically mixed province of Diyala, which the government declared free of IS early last year. But suicide and car bomb blasts have been carried out in the region since.

Meanwhile,

elite Iraqi troops and Kurdish peshmerga say they are poised to assault Fallujah

, an IS stronghold, as the jihadists launch separate attacks elsewhere in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Fighting has prompted a new exodus of thousands of desperate civilians and deep concern for the many more trapped in the battlegrounds.

The week-old operation has so far focused on retaking villages and rural areas around Fallujah, which lies just 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Baghdad.

jar/jr (dpa, AFP)

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