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Hostage siege kills 21 at Iraq government building


BAGHDAD >> An Iraqi government spokesman says the death toll in a hostage standoff at a local government building in the city of Tikrit has risen to 21.

Salahuddin province media adviser Mohammed al-Asi says the siege is still ongoing as of late Tuesday afternoon, more than three hours after gunmen wearing military uniforms and suicide bomb belts stormed the building. He says 65 people have been wounded.

The provincial governor says three lawmakers who were inside the Tikrit headquarters when the assault began are missing, indicating they may be among the hostages.

Officials described a fierce shootout between at least eight gunmen and Iraqi security forces who have surrounded the building.

Tikrit is 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

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