BAGHDAD, (Xinhua): Violence across Iraq killed 34 people and wounded some 94 on Sunday, while fierce clashes continued against al-Qaida militants in the country’s western province of Anbar, police and officials said.
Armored vehicles and tanks backed by helicopters continued their battles for the fourth day with al-Qaida militants at the town of Khaldiyah, some 30 km east of Ramadi, the provincial capital, a police source told Xinhua.
“The troops fought the terrorists on the edge of Khaldiyah and the nearby open land area (locally named al-Jazira). The clashes resulted in the killing of three gunmen and the wounding of two others,” the source.
Separately, a soldier was killed and three others were wounded in a clash that occurred around noon between the army and al-Qaida militants in al-Girtan area near Khaldiyah, the source added.
In the evening, Iraqi army artillery and helicopters pounded al- Zidan village in Abu Ghraib area, after gunmen attacked an army base in the area and withdrew to the nearby village, a local police source told Xinhua.
It was not clear how many were killed in the clashes at the military base, but reports said that all the casualties took place in the village. The source gave no further details about how many gunmen were among the casualties.
Meanwhile, Ali al-Rawi, an official in Anbar’s provincial council, told reporters that some 1,000 families have left their homes in the town of Khaldiyah and the nearby areas, fleeing to other cities.
“Nearly 1,000 families, most of them are women, children and elderly, have left their homes in Khaldiyah Jazira to the cities of Heet, Rawa and Aanah, because of the clashes and the shelling on their homes,” Rawi said, adding that many of the remaining families are locked in their homes by the clashes.
Insurgent attacks continued in the volatile Sunni Arab area west of Baghdad that stretches through Anbar province to Iraq’s western border with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Anbar province has been the scene of fierce clashes after Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside Ramadi, the provincial capital, in late December.
In Baghdad, a car bomb went off at a busy intersection of Adan in Kadhmiyah district in the northern part of the Iraqi capital, killing four people and wounding 14 others, the source said.
Another car bomb detonated at a busy Alawi parking lot in downtown Baghdad, killing at least three people, wounding 12 others and setting fire to several nearby civilian cars, the source added.
Also in the capital, a roadside bomb exploded at Mansour district in western Baghdad, killing a civilian and wounding three others, he said.
Separately, seven people were killed and 27 others wounded when a car bomb and a motorcycle bomb detonated in a quick succession in the restive city of Tuz-Khurmato, some 200 km north of Baghdad, a local police source said.
In Iraq’s Salahudin province, a police officer and a policeman were killed in a drive-by shooting when gunmen opened fire from their assault rifles on the victims’ car while driving in the city of Baiji, some 200 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
In a separate incident, Salah Nazal, a cameraman, and his driver were critically wounded when a sticky bomb attached to their car detonated inside the campus of Mosul University in the city of Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, a local police source anonymously told Xinhua.
In a statement posted on its website, the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate condemned the attack and demanded the Iraqi security forces to bring those behind the attack to justice.
According to Muaiyad al-Lami, head of the syndicate, more than 390 journalists have been killed in Iraq since 2003, and up to 17 were killed in 2013, the highest toll since 2008.
Also in Salahudin, gunmen opened fire on a car carrying deputy commander of a police commando force, known as Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), killing the officer and his driver, the source said.
In northern Iraq, a cleric of a Sunni mosque was shot dead by gunmen in western the city of Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, while the police found a body of a young man with bullet holes in his head and chest in eastern the city, a local police source said.
Also in the city, seven policemen were wounded in a roadside bomb explosion near their patrol in the northern part of Mosul, the source added.
In Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala, a civilian was killed and seven people, including three policemen, were wounded in separate bombings and shootings across the province, a provincial police source said.
Tensions and violence have been escalating between the Sunni and Shiite communities since late December 2012, when the Sunni Muslims started their protests against the Shiite-led government in six of Iraq’s predominantly Sunni provinces and the Sunni districts in Baghdad.
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.