BAQUBA, Iraq, June 17 (Xinhua) -- A total of 28 Sunni militants and two policemen were killed in sporadic overnight battles across Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, provincial security sources said on Tuesday.
Hundreds of Sunni militants, including the militants linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaida offshoot, attacked the western suburbs of the provincial capital city of Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, and clashed fiercely with the security forces, Major General Jamil al-Shimary, Diyala's provincial police chief told Xinhua.
The clashes erupted late on Monday night when insurgent groups attacked a police station and another military base in al-Mafraq area in western Baquba, leaving nine Sunni militants and two policemen killed, along with wounding six policemen, Shimary said.
Separately, seven insurgents were killed in clashes between insurgent groups and the security forces in the city of Maqdadiyah, some 40 km northeast of Baquba, according to Lieutenant General Abdul Amir al-Zaidi, Commander of Dijla Operations Command responsible for security of Diyala province.
The troops also killed 12 insurgents in battles on the edges of the city of Udheim, some 60 km north of Baquba, al-Zaidi told reporters.
Diyala province, which stretches from eastern edges of Baghdad to the Iranian border, has long been the stronghold of al-Qaida militant groups and hotbed of insurgency and sectarian violence since the U.S.-led invasion broke out in 2003.
The security deterioration in Iraq started last week when bloody clashes broke out between the Iraqi security forces and hundreds of gunmen who took control of several neighborhoods in western part of Mosul and expanded later to other areas and provinces after the Iraqi security forces withdrew from the city.