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Tanks destroyed in Iraq suicide attack

Rebel fighters destroy two tanks in Fallujah while 24 killed in separate attacks across country.

Last updated: 14 Jan 2014 21:13
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Two years after US troops left Iraq, violence has climbed back to its highest levels [AFP]

Rebel fighters have staged coordinated attacks near the western Iraqi city of Falluja, destroying two army tanks and capturing a police station, police have said.

There was no immediate word on the casualty toll from those assaults, which occurred during a standoff between the army and armed fighters who overran Falluja two weeks ago.

Elsewhere, car bombs and shootings killed at least 24 people, mainly in the capital, Baghdad, police and medics said.

A suicide bomber in an explosives-laden fuel tanker blew it up under a highway bridge near the town of Saqlawiya, about 10km north of Falluja, causing the bridge to collapse and destroying one of two army tanks parked on top, police said.

Gunmen then attacked and destroyed the second tank.

Simultaneously, dozens of gunmen stormed a police station in Saqlawiya, forcing its occupants to surrender. Army
helicopters later attacked the gunmen in the police station.

The destroyed bridge lies on the main highway leading west from Baghdad across the vast Sunni desert province of Anbar towards Syria and Jordan.

Police said the suicide truck bomber had driven from Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar.

Two years after US troops left Iraq, violence has climbed back to its highest levels since the bloodshed of 2006-07, when tens of thousands of people were killed.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the spate of attacks in Baghdad but the Shia-led government has blamed al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters.

Series of attacks

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has sworn to eradicate armed fighters, but has ruled out an army assault on Falluja, saying tribesmen and residents must force the fighters to leave.

The Falluja crisis and the worsening violence pose a major challenge to Maliki, who faces parliamentary polls in April.

In Tuesday's deadliest attacks in Baghdad, two car bombs killed nine people and wounded 23 in a crowded street in the mainly Sunni Ghazaliya district, police and medics said.

A roadside bomb blew up in a busy market in the mainly Shia Husseiniya area, killing three and wounding eight.

Earlier, a bomb attached to a bus killed three people and wounded 12 in the capital's mostly Shia Talbiya neighbourhood, while a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed a passer-by in the mainly Kadhimiya district.

In western Baghdad, gunmen killed a judge and his driver in a drive-by shooting in Yarmouk district, police said, and gunmen killed two soldiers at a checkpoint in Abu Ghraib.

Four mortar rounds landed on houses in the town of Garma, 30km northwest of Baghdad and not far from Falluja,
killing four people, a local official and hospital sources said.

431

Source:
Agencies
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