(CNN) -- Militants raided an Iraqi military base in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul early Tuesday, killing 14 Iraqi soldiers in a shooting and beheading rampage, Mosul police officials said.
The militants -- believed to be with al Qaeda-linked groups -- arrived in about 10 vehicles, police said. They shot some soldiers and beheaded others before leaving the area, according to police.
The attack happened at a base in the south of Mosul, which is about 420 kilometers (261 miles) north of the country's capital, Baghdad.
Mosul is in the predominantly Sunni Muslim province of Nineveh. Political and sectarian violence has raged in Iraq in the past year, often pitting Sunnis -- a minority in Iraq -- against Shiite Muslims, who came to dominate the country's government after Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was overthrown in 2003.
The United Nations said 2013 was the deadliest year in Iraq since 2008, with almost 8,000 people killed, and the figures remained grim in January.
According to the U.N. mission in Iraq, more than 600 civilians and more than 100 members of the country's security forces were killed in January.