Iraqi intelligence officials say gunmen have ambushed a group of travellers at a fake checkpoint in the western Anbar province, killing at least 14 people execution-style.

The four officials say the travellers included several soldiers as well as residents of the overwhelmingly Shia-dominated province of Karbala.

The officials say the travellers were stopped and killed on Wednesday near the remote town of Nukhaib, the site of a desert crossroads west of Karbala in the Sunni-dominated Anbar. The area around the town was the site of a deadly September 2011 attack on a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to release the information.

Violence has spiked in Iraq in recent weeks, raising fears of a return to widespread sectarian bloodshed.

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