Unidentified gunmen have shot dead at least seven women and five men at a brothel in the Iraqi capital in the same area where alcohol shops were attacked last week, security and medical officials have said.

The attack took place at a two-storey house with a backyard surrounded by a sheet metal fence, in a quiet residential part of the Zayouna district of east Baghdad on Wednesday, the AFP news agency reported.

The attackers apparently carried out the killings with silenced weapons, as residents of the area said they did not see or hear anything out of the ordinary.

Soldiers and police mainly armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and pistols cordoned off the site, which was visited by high-ranking officers.

Reporters were not permitted to enter the house, or to take photographs or video.

The attack on the brothel follows another on alcohol shops in the Zayouna area.

On May 14, gunmen restrained federal policemen at a checkpoint in the area, then shot dead 12 people at a row of adjoining alcohol shops nearby.

Both prostitution and alcohol are prohibited by Islam, the religion of the vast majority of Iraq's population.

Zayouna is an upscale, mixed district of Sunni and Shia Muslims, where a number of brothels have opened in recent years.

With the latest attack, 399 people have been killed so far in Iraq this month, according to AFP figures based on reports from security and medical officials.

Source: AFP