Iraqi police are investigating the Saturday (June 1st) slaying of three men from one family in the village of Abu Khanazeer in Diyala province's Abu Saida district, a police spokesman said.
The incident has provoked angry reactions from local officials and Iraqi lawmakers, who have accused "armed militia elements" of being behind the assassinations.
Security leaders have taken steps to reassure local residents in the aftermath of the assassinations, Diyala police spokesman Col. Ghalib al-Attiya told Diyaruna.
The police command has opened an extensive investigation into the incident, which is being conducted by a specialised team, to find out what was behind it and to identify and apprehend the perpetrators, he said.
"Citizens will soon be informed of important details about this crime and previous similar crimes," al-Attiya promised.
The Diyala police and operations commands and the army's 5th Division have taken a series of measures in conjunction with the investigation, he noted.
These have included replacing the security units in charge of protecting the village and augmenting military deployment in the area, as well as holding the individuals who were manning the main checkpoint accountable.
According to media reports, village residents said the gunmen had driven through the checkpoint, attacked the victims in their shop in the market, and left again, without being stopped on their way back through the checkpoint.
Quelling sectarian strife
The situation in the village is "calm, stable and under control", al-Attiya said.
A day before the three Abu Khanazeer villagers were killed, three others, including a member of the security forces, were assassinated in the neighbouring village of al-Mahoula, he said.
Hidden parties that want to ignite sectarian strife between the people of the two villages stand behind the killings, al-Attiya said.
"There have been similar attempts to provoke sedition, especially between the residents of the towns of al-Mukhaisa and al-Karma, but they were thwarted by the determination of the people and their resolve to co-exist," he said.
The residents of these areas want to "make sure that their province remains stable", he said, stressing that they will "not allow [armed groups] to breach the citizens' security and threaten their lives".
No Abu Khanazeer residents have been displaced in the wake of the incident, he said, refuting rumours and social media talk of mass flight from the village.
"We reiterate that this information is completely false, and that since the time of the crime to date there has been no case of displacement," he said.