(TIKRIT, Iraq) -- At least 56 people were killed and more than 95 wounded Tuesday during a hostage situation that turned into a five-hour standoff inside a government building in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit.
Authorities said that the carnage was the result of eight or nine armed militants dressed in police uniforms taking control of the building where the provincial council and other government offices are located.
It's believed that the militants began killing their hostages when Iraqi security forces launched an assault to retake the building. At least two of the insurgents were wearing explosive vests that they reportedly detonated.
Police later said that the dead included three Salaheddin provincial council members, the chief of Salaheddin police and a local journalist.
One senior police member speculated that the hostage situation was a plot hatched by al Qaeda and that their militants were intending to assassinate all the provincial council members. Some American soldiers who helped in the rescue operation received minor wounds.
Sunni-dominated Tikrit is the birthplace of late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
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