66 killed in attacks across Iraq

Baghdad, March 23: At least 66 people were killed in violent attacks and clashes between insurgents and Iraqi security forces in various parts of the country, security sources said Sunday.

In Iraq’s western province of Anbar 33 militants were killed in a gun-battle with the country’s commando forces, Xinhua reported.

The army’s artillery pounded the industrial district in Fallujah, killing three militants and injuring two others, the source said.

In another incident, gunmen shot dead a member of a government-backed Sahwa paramilitary group in Abu Ghraib area, some 25 km west of Baghdad.

Anbar province has been the scene of fierce clashes that flared up after Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside Ramadi in late December last year.

In the country’s eastern province of Diyala, 14 Al Qaeda militants killed and three policemen wounded.

The reinforcement troops were surrounding the districts, while dozens of families left their homes to safer areas in the town of nearby Baquba city for fear of the continuing clashes.

In Buhruz, a joint army and police force carried out an operation on a suspected Al Qaeda safe house and killed a leader of the militant group.

In Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh, three civilians were shot dead by gunmen in separate incidents in the provincial capital city of Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad.

In a separate incident, a roadside bomb struck an army patrol in the eastern part of Mosul, leaving two soldiers dead.

A policeman, an off-duty soldier and a civilian were killed in three attacks by gunmen in the areas of Rabiaa and Zummar in the western part of the province.

In central Iraq, a police officer and a policeman were killed and two policemen wounded when gunmen attacked their patrol near a police station in the village of Hajaj, just north of Salahudin’s provincial capital city of Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad.

In a separate incident, a engineer was killed and nine people were wounded in an explosion of a bomb hidden at a waste container in a busy street in Tikrit.

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, the highest annual death toll in years.

IANS