Gunmen shot dead 14 members of the Iraqi security forces, including 11 who guard oil pipelines, in an attack in the northwest on Thursday, security and medical sources said.

The attack by the unidentified group of assailants took place on a road between Haditha and Baiji, some 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of Baghdad.

The toll includes 11 militiamen charged with protecting the country's vital oil infrastructure, said Lieutenant Colonel Majed Salah al-Nemrawi and Dr Omar Adel.

Three soldiers were also among the dead.

In the capital itself, a large explosion was heard in the evening, AFP journalists said. There was no further immediate information.

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