BAGHDAD, (Xinhua): Fifteen people were killed and four others wounded in violent attacks across Iraq on Tuesday, while clashes and bombings continue in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, police said.
In Anbar, the army helicopters pounded gunmen who fired mortar rounds on army positions outside the city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, killing at least six gunmen allegedly affiliated to al-Qaida group, a provincial police source told Xinhua.
The helicopters also pounded and destroyed a building believed to be a warehouse for missiles and vehicles used by the gunmen in the industrial area in central Fallujah, the source said.
Separately, dozens of gunmen in four-wheel drive vehicles clashed with policemen guarding al-Nassaf police station in the western part of Fallujah, killing a policeman and wounding another, the source said.
Afterwards, the policemen fled the scene and the attackers seized their vehicles and weapons and set fire to the building, the source added.
Anbar’s provincial capital city of Ramadi and Fallujah have been the main scenes of fierce clashes that flared up after Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside Ramadi in late December.
The Sunnis have been carrying out a year-long protest, accusing the Shiite-led government of marginalizing them and its Shiite- dominated security forces of indiscriminately arresting, torturing and killing their sons.
In Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala, five soldiers and a member of the government-backed Sahwa paramilitary group were killed when gunmen attacked their checkpoint in a village near the provincial capital city of Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, a provincial police source told Xinhua.
Two Sahwa group members and a soldier were also wounded by the attack, the source said.
The Sahwa militia, also known as the Awakening Council or the Sons of Iraq, consists of armed groups, including some powerful anti-U.S. Sunni insurgent groups, who turned their rifles against the al-Qaida network after the latter exercised indiscriminate killings against both Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities.
In a separate incident, gunmen opened fire on a car in the town of Wajihiyah, some 25 km northeast of Baquba, killing two civilians aboard, the source added.
Iraq is witnessing its worst violence in recent years. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, a total of 8,868 Iraqis, including 7,818 civilians and civilian police personnel, were killed in 2013, which is the highest annual death toll for years.