Iraqi officials said a suicide bomber targeting pro-government Sunni militiamen killed at least 26 people Wednesday in an attack near the country's capital.
The blast happened in Madaen, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of Baghdad.
Officials said most of the dead were pro-government fighters who had gathered to receive their salaries. Three Iraqi soldiers were among those killed. The bombing wounded at least 55 other people.
The militiamen were part of a group of fighters known as Sahwa, who oppose the Sunni militant Islamic State group and helped U.S. forces battle al-Qaida in Iraq.
“The attacker was wearing an Iraqi army uniform and an explosive vest packed with ball bearings,” a police officer said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, but it bore the hallmark of the Islamic State group, which captured large swaths of western and northern Iraq in a summer blitz.
The U.S. State Department condemned the blast as desperate and cowardly, and it extended condolences to the families of the victims.
Some material for this report came from Reuters and AP.