RAMADI, (Xinhua): Eight people were killed in separate attacks across Iraq on Saturday, while gunmen kidnapped eight policemen in the western province of Anbar, the police said.
In western Iraq, two people were killed in clashes between tribesmen and Iraqi security forces near the city of Ramadi, capital of Anbar province, when the tribesmen apparently believed that a police unit stormed their area to arrest Sheikh Mohammed Khamis Abu Risha and Sheikh Qusai al-Zain.
The two tribal leaders are wanted for suspected connection with the killing of five soldiers earlier in Ramadi, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The clashes also resulted in the damaging of a military vehicle by the followers of the two Sheikhs, while the troops withdrew from the area without carrying out any arrest, the source said.
Separately, unidentified gunmen ambushed a police patrol on a highway near Ramadi, some 100 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, and kidnapped eight policemen before they fled the scene, the source added.
Earlier in the day, the source told Xinhua that the gunmen abducted five policemen, citing initial report.
Anbar province is the heartland of the Iraqi Sunni Muslims. Its capital Ramadi has been one of the main areas of the Sunni protests against the Shiite-led government in Baghdad since late December last year.
Elsewhere, gunmen broke into the house of an anti-terrorism police officer at dawn in Baghdad’s southern suburb of al-Rasheed and shot him dead with his wife and two children, an Interior Ministry source anonymously told Xinhua.
The attackers also shot dead a policeman at a nearby checkpoint as they were leaving the scene, the source said.
In Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala, a member of a government- backed Sunni paramilitary group, also known as Awakening Council group, was killed and another wounded when gunmen attacked their checkpoint outside the city of Khalis, near the provincial capital city of Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, a provincial police source told Xinhua.
Spokesman of Diyala’s provincial health department Faris al- Azzawi told Xinhua Saturday that the death toll of Sunni worshipers in the double roadside bomb explosions after Friday prayers in the city of Baquba increased to 44, with 85 others wounded.
On Friday, the city’s mayor Abdullah Hayali put the toll at 41 people killed and 56 injured when two roadside bombs went off almost simultaneously near the Saroya mosque in Baquba as the worshipers were leaving the mosque after prayer.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks, but the al-Qaida front in Iraq, in most cases, were responsible for such massive attacks in the country, raising fears that the terrorist group and other militia could return to widespread violence, particularly as Iraq is trying to fend off the spillover of the ongoing violence in neighboring Syria.
Sectarian tension between the Sunni and Shiite communities has been at its highest level since the U.S. troops pulled out from the country at the end of 2011, as the almost five-month Sunni protests against the Shiite-led government have continued in the Sunni provinces and the Sunni districts in Baghdad.