Four killed in Iraq as forces fight Al Qaeda

Baghdad, Jan 13: At least four people were killed and five injured as Iraqi security forces backed by Sunni tribes battled Al Qaeda militants Sunday in the country’s Anbar province, police source and officials said Sunday.

Meanwhile, hundreds of families fled their homes in the province in the light of ongoing violence.

Armoured vehicles and tanks backed by helicopters continued their battles for the fourth day with Al Qaeda militants at Khaldiyah town, some 30 km from Ramadi, the provincial capital, Xinhua quoted a police source as saying.

“The troops fought the terrorists on the edge of Khaldiyah and the nearby open land area (locally named al-Jazira)…, and the clashes resulted in the killing of three gunmen and the wounding of two others,” the source said.

Separately, a soldier was killed and three others were wounded in a clash that occurred around noon between the army and Al Qaeda militants in al-Girtan area near Khaldiyah, the source added.

Some 1,000 families have left their homes in the town of Khaldiyah and the nearby areas, fleeing to other cities, said Ali al-Rawi, a provincial official said. Many other families, however, remained stuck in their homes due to the clashes.

Anbar province has been the scene of fierce clashes since 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 marginalising them and its Shiite- dominated security forces of indiscriminately arresting, torturing and killing their sons.