BAGHDAD, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki on Wednesday said that the time has come to end al-Qaida presence in the city of Fallujah in the volatile province of Anbar, while four people were killed and nine wounded in violent attacks across the country.
"The time has come to settle this subject and end the presence of this gang in this city (Fallujah) to save its residents from their evil," Maliki said in his weekly televised speech to the nation.
"I ask the sons of this province, its tribes and notables and all who live there to be ready to take serious stands against those dirty people without casualties and without sacrifices," Maliki said without specifying a time for any action.
Maliki's comments came as Iraqi security forces and their allied tribesmen are still battling anti-government Sunni tribes and gunmen allegedly linked to al-Qaida in and near Anbar's capital Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, and Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad.
During the day, helicopter gunships carried out a series of attacks on gunmen positions in the cities of Ramadi and nearby town of Khaldiyah, the source said.
The helicopters also attacked the rebels' positions in the areas of Zouba and Naimiyah in south of Fallujah, the source added without giving further details.
Meanwhile, sporadic artillery and mortar shelling continued on Fallujah, which is still under full control of anti-government tribal fighters, the source said.
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.
The Sunnis have been carrying out a year-long protest against the Shiite-led government, accusing it of marginalizing them and its Shiite-dominated security forces of indiscriminately arresting, torturing and killing their sons.
Separately, two mortar rounds landed on houses in the capital's southwestern suburb of Radhwaniyah, killing two children and wounding four people, including a woman, a police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
In Iraq's northern central province of Salahudin, a roadside bomb went off late on Tuesday night near a convoy of a senior police officer while travelling near the provincial capital city of Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, wounding the officer and killing two of his bodyguards, a provincial police source anonymously told Xinhua.
In the morning, two policemen were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in the southern part of the city of Kirkuk, some 250 km north of Baghdad, a local police source said.
In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, two more policemen were also wounded by a roadside bomb explosion near the city of Saadiyah, some 120 km northeast of Baghdad, a provincial police source said.
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 was the highest annual death toll for years.