Baghdad, 11 July
Insurgents launched a two-day f bloody assault on security force posts in Iraq’s restive Anbar province, killing at least 16 at the start of the holy month of Ramzan, authorities said today.
The killings are the latest in a wave of bloodshed that has left more than 2,600 people dead since April.
The violence, Iraq’s worst in half a decade, is raising fears the country is again returning to the brink
of a civil war pitting its Sunni and Shiite Muslim sects against one another.
The deadliest attack happened at sundown yesterday as Iraqis were marking the end of the first day of Ramzan fasting.
Gunmen launched their assault on the army checkpoint near the town of Barwana, which lies across the Euphrates River from the town of Haditha, about 220 km (140 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
Barwana’s mayor, Meyasser Abdul-Mohsin, said three soldiers were killed and four were wounded in that attack.
The attackers then made their way to a trailer not far away that is used by special oil industry police assigned to protect a nearby pipeline. The men inside were sitting down to have the iftar meal that breaks the daytime Ramzan fast at sunset, Abdul-Mohsin said.
The gunmen shot at the trailer and then set it on fire, the mayor said.
Eleven police officers were left dead, with some of their bodies badly burned and making it difficult to identify, he said.
“This is a crime carried out by terrorists during iftar on the first day of Ramzan,” Abdul-Mohsin said. “It just proves what a cowardly act it is.”
A security official in nearby Haditha gave a similar account and confirmed the death toll. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to release the information.
Insurgents launched more attacks today.
A police station in the Anbar provincial capital Ramadi came under attack by militants in the morning in an assault that left two policemen dead, provincial council member councilman Talib Hamadi and deputy provincial governor Dhari Arkan said.
Ramadi is 115 km (70 miles) west of Baghdad.