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Iraqi militias bombed by unmanned aircraft, one killed - security sources

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) – An unmanned aircraft dropped explosives on a base belonging to Iran-linked Shi’ite paramilitary groups in northern Iraq on Friday, killing at least one person, the army and paramilitary sources said.

The Iraqi military said in a statement a drone had dropped a grenade onto the base in northern Salahuddin province, wounding at least two people, but gave no further details.

Paramilitary sources in the area and a Baghdad-based paramilitary leader said one person had been killed in the attack which took place in the early hours of Friday morning.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

A security source said two explosions hit the base, one targeting an ammunition depot belonging to an Iran-backed group.

The incident took place amid heightened tension between the United States and Iran.

Iraq is seen as a potential arena for any violent regional confrontation between the two foes because of the presence of Iran-backed Shi’ite Muslim paramilitary groups operating in close proximity to bases hosting U.S. forces.

Islamic State militants, also enemies of the Shi’ite paramilitaries, operate in the area where the base is located and in many remote areas of northern Iraq, despite the group having lost its sway over territory.

It has claimed attacks against Iraqi forces in recent months.

Several Iraqi bases hosting U.S. forces were hit by a number of rockets a few weeks ago in unclaimed attacks in which no one was hurt. Washington is pressing Iraq’s government to rein in Iran-backed paramilitary groups which it says pose a threat to U.S. interests in Iraq.

The United States has blamed Iran for attacks on several oil tankers in the Gulf. Tehran denies any involvement.

(Reporting by John Davison, Ahmed Rasheed, Ghazwan Hassan in Tikrit and Ali Sultan in Sulaimaniya; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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