Iraqis battle 'al-Qaeda forces'

Fourteen people dead after fighting around Baquba, northeast of Baghdad.

    Iraqi police displayed bodies of the purported
    fighters after the incident [AFP]
     
    Iraqi citizens and police have clashed with alleged al-Qaeda fighters in the town of Baquba, resulting in 14 deaths, according to police.
     
    The battle began early on Wednesday after mortar rounds fell on Buhriz, a suburb of Baquba, about 60km northeast of Baghdad, an unnamed police officer said.
    Residents and police battled the fighters, suspected of having links to al-Qaeda, for three hours, the officer said.
     
    Eight of those killed were fighters while six were civilians, he said.
     
    Twenty other people, all of them civilians, were wounded, the officer said.
     
    Colonel Yahya al-Nidawi, another officer, said the locals succeeded in driving off the al-Qaeda fighters.
     
    "With the help of almighty God, the brave residents of Buhriz and our gallant police, we were able to repel and eliminate them," he said.
     
    Mortar fire
     
    By mid-morning, bodies lay scattered on a main street in Buhriz.
     
    Dr Ahmed Alwan at Baquba General Hospital said a female child and seven armed men died, and that 15 people were treated for injuries, the AFP news agency reported.
     
    Local resident Ihsan al-Obeidi, who was wounded in the clash, said: "We were sleeping when mortar shells landed near my house, injuring my 12-year-old son, my wife and number of my  relatives."

    One of the dead men was wearing an ammunition vest, but it was unclear whether he was a resident or one of the attackers.
     
    Relatives loaded at least two bodies into wooden coffins covered in blankets.
     
    Violence round-up
     
    Elsewhere on Wednesday, five people were killed in an ambush on a minibus carrying civilians near Khalis, about 80km north of Baghdad, where suspected al-Qaeda members had set up a fake checkpoint.
     
    South of Baghdad, a suicide car bomber killed two people and wounded seven others, Iraqi police said.
    A five-year-old was among the dead.
     
    In the northern city of Kirkuk, the scene of power struggles between Sunni Arab residents and Kurds, two car bombs struck a crowded market in a Kurdish area, killing five people and wounding 30, police said.
     
    In the main northern city of Mosul, a bomb in a parked car killed a civilian and wounded 10 others, police and army officers said.
     
    A police patrol appeared to have been the target.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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