Attacks targeting soldiers, militia kill 7 in Iraq
BAGHDAD (AP) — Separate attacks in Iraq killed five members of an anti-militant Sunni militia and two soldiers Friday as an al-Qaida splinter group claimed responsibility for a series of Baghdad bombings that killed at least 19 people the day before.
In one of Friday’s attacks, police said gunmen in a speeding car opened fire on a security checkpoint manned by anti-al-Qaida Sunni fighters near the town of Balad, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad. The attack killed three Sunni fighters and wounded four, police said.
Hours later, a roadside bomb targeted a patrol of Sunni militiamen just north of Baghdad, killing two fighters and wounding four.
Insurgents frequently attack members of the Sunni militia, also known as Sahwa, which joined forces with U.S. troops at the height of the Iraq war to fight al-Qaida.
Shortly after sunset, a suicide bomber drove his explosive-laden car into the gate of an army barracks in the northern city of Mosul, killing two soldiers and wounding four, police said.
Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to journalists.
Also Friday, in a statement posted on a militant website, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant said it had carried out attacks in the Iraqi capital the day before in retaliation for the military operations against the city of Fallujah in Anbar province. Fallujah has been in the hands of the Islamic State and other Sunni insurgents since last December.
Thursday’s violence included bombings near several government offices and an outdoor market in Baghdad.
The statement’s authenticity could not be independently verified but it appeared on websites commonly used by the group.
“We tell the spiteful Shiites and their government ... that our lions are craving the taste of your flesh and blood,” it said.
Iraq has seen a spike in violence since April 2013, with the death toll climbing to its highest levels since the worst of the country’s sectarian bloodletting in 2006-2008. The United Nations says violence killed 8,868 people in 2013.