Gunmen and suicide bombers using explosives-packed vehicles launched a wave of coordinated attacks in Iraq’s Anbar province overnight, killing around 25 members of the security forces and three civilians, officials and medics said.
A suicide bomber detonated a tanker truck packed with explosives at a federal police checkpoint east of the town, while fighters armed with heavy weapons struck the police station in Rutba itself and another bomber detonated a vehicle at a police checkpoint to its west.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the suicide and gun attacks, but Sunni Muslim fighters, including al-Qaeda, have regularly targeted security personnel and others working for the Shia-led government.
The attacks between 10:00pm and midnight on Tuesday in the west Iraq province also wounded another 26 police, they said.
Four of the attacks struck targets in or near the town of Rutba, about 110km from the border with war-racked Syria.
Those attacks killed 18 police and wounded 25, while three civilians died when another suicide bomber blew up a tanker truck on a bridge west of Rutba, the officials and a doctor said.
About an hour before midnight on Tuesday, gunmen attacked a police checkpoint at an entrance to Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, killing three police and wounding a fourth, the sources said.
Gunmen also hit another checkpoint in the city, killing four more police.
With the latest attacks, more than 520 people have been killed so far this month, and more than 5,200 since the beginning of the year, according to AFP news agency figures based on security and medical sources.
In a separate incident in Mosul, a suicide bomber driving a vehicle packed with explosives detonated the car near a military checkpoint in the south of the city, killing at least two, police and medical sources said.
Mosul, capital of the predominantly Sunni province of Nineveh, is a stronghold for fighters who have been reinvigorated by the war in Syria and growing resentment of the government that came to power after the US-led invasion in 2003.
Violence in Iraq, which had eased after reaching a peak in 2006-2007, when al-Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate was forced underground, is now rising again.
A study released this month by academics based in the United States, Canada and Iraq said nearly half a million people have died from war-related causes in Iraq since the US-led invasion.
Fighters, including those linked to al-Qaeda, frequently target Iraqi security forces and other government employees, accusing the government of marginalising their minority sect since the overthrow of Sunni strongman Saddam Hussein.