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Iraq Militants Storm University, Taking Dozens Of Students Hostage

07/06/2014 10:19 BST | Updated 07/06/2014 11:59 BST
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE via Getty Images
Iraqi policemen stand guard on a main road in Baghdad as Shiite Muslim pilgrims walk on May 20, 2013 towards the Imam al-Kadim shrine for a commemoration ceremony to be held this week amid a sharp increase in violence. Pilgrims converge on the seventh Imam's shrine in the Kadhimiya district of northern Baghdad to mark his death in 795 after being poisoned by Iraq's ruler then, Harun al-Rashid. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

Gunmen have stormed a university in Iraq and are holding dozens of students hostage, officials said Saturday.

The armed men infiltrated the site by killing the guards and then blew up a bridge leading to the main gate, police said, according to Sky News.

Gunmen from the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group have detained the students inside a dormitory, according to officials.

The forces are attempting to re-take the university after the attackers, who are reportedly using the students as human shields.

The attack took place at Anbar University near Ramadi, which is west of the capital Baghdad. Security forces have reportedly now cordoned off the campus.

Explosions reportedly tore through the university while the siege was under way, but police could not provide details on what caused them.

Parts of Ramadi have been held by Islamic extremists and other anti-government militants for months.

Iraq is currently grappling with its worst surge in violence since the sectarian bloodletting of 2006 and 2007, when the country was pushed to the brink of civil war despite the presence of tens of thousands of US troops.

The latest violence has been fuelled by Sunni Muslim anger at the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, as well as the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

ISIL has carried out scores of deadly attacks on both sides of the border and imposed a brutal form of Islamic rule in territories under its control.