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Insurgents seize part of Iraqi Sunni town as battles continue

English.news.cn   2014-07-15 02:38:17

BAGHDAD, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces on Monday continued to battle against militant groups across the country, while Islamist insurgents seized areas of a Sunni-dominated province after clashing with local police and residents, security and medical sources said.

In the largely Sunni Salahudin province, local police and armed residents have been trying to rebuff Sunni insurgents affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) group, an al-Qaida offshoot, since the early morning hours in the town of Dhuluiyah, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The battles began around dawn on Sunday when IS militants stormed the town, seizing its northern part after blowing up a local government office building, a town court and a bridge. Local police and armed residents prevented the militants from capturing the southern part of the Dhuluiyah, killing at least seven IS militants and wounding more than 10 others, the source said.

Four policemen and two armed civilians were killed in Sunday's clashes, while three policemen were wounded, the source added.

On Monday, the Sunni insurgents continued its attacks on the southern part of the town with mortar rounds, damaging several houses.

Iraqi army helicopters pounded two posts of the IS militias in the town and struck two of their vehicles, killing and wounding unknown number of militants, the source said.

This isn't the Islamic State's first attempt at conquering Dhuluiyah. On June 14, IS militants seized the town but encountered fierce resistance from the police and locals, who fought the group and regained control over the town.

The militant group, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has stunned the world by capturing large swathes of territory both in Syria and Iraq, overrunning the latter's army and snatching up a large cache of weapons from military depots abandoned by Iraqi troops.

Two weeks ago the group declared the creation of an Islamic caliphate in the area, and demanded that Muslims worldwide pledge allegiance to it.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi army continues its campaign against the insurgents. Army aircraft shelled a suspected militant's house in the town of Sieniyah, also in the Salahudin province, leaving eight dead, including five of the suspect's family members, along with five others wounded, a provincial police source said.

Salahudin province is predominately Sunni and its capital Tikrit, about 170 km north of Baghdad, is the hometown of former president Saddam Hussein.

In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, militants, including those who are linked to IS insurgents, captured the Shiite dominated village of Tawakul, after clashing with the security forces and Shiite militias, a provincial police source told Xinhua on the condition of anonymity.

More than 150 Shiite families fled their homes seeking refuge in safer areas, while the militants bombed a Shiite mosque, known as Husseiniyah, the source said.

Separately, clashes erupted in the early hours of Monday between a police patrol and a militant group in Imam Musafir area, leaving three militants dead, the source added.

Gunmen attacked the house of a district administrator in the militant-seized city of Saadiyah in northeast of Baquba, killing the official and wounding two of his sons, the source added.

Also in Saadiyah, gunmen shot dead a former Baath party member near his house, the source said without giving further details.

In Anbar province, sporadic clashes continued near the city of Haditha, and the nearby dam on the Euphrates river, as well as in the provincial capital city of Ramadi and the nearby Fallujah, the source said.

Iraqi warplanes have bombed a rally of "suspected insurgents" who gathered in support of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the city of Rutba, killing 30 people, a provincial police source said.

Meanwhile, a civilian was killed and seven others were wounded in artillery and mortar shelling on the militant-seized city of Fallujah, a medical source from the city hospital told Xinhua.

In Baghdad, a car bomb went off at a thoroughfare in the Alawi district in downtown Baghdad, leaving at least one civilian dead and nine others wounded. The bomb damaged several nearby shops and cars, an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

In a separate incident, another car bomb exploded in Baiyaa district in the southern part of Baghdad, killing a civilian and wounding five others, the source said.

Iraq has been witnessing some of its worst violence in years. About a month ago, armed Sunni insurgents, spearheaded by the IS, launched a surprise offensive that lead to the breakdown of Iraq's army, as troops fled, abandoning their posts and military equipment. The insurgents have captured a large part of the country's northern and western territories.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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