Iraq clashes, attacks kill 25Agence France-Presse . Baghdad
Violence, including fighting between security forces and militants, killed 25 people in Iraq on Tuesday, as the UN warned that sectarian attacks threaten to force more Iraqis from their homes.
Violence in Iraq has reached a level this year not seen since 2008, when the country was emerging from a brutal sectarian conflict.
Militants attacked two police stations and a local official’s house in the towns of Rawa and Aana near the highway to Syria in Anbar province, killing seven police and the official’s brother, officers and doctors said.
The deputy interior minister, Adnan al-Assadi, told journalists a large group of militants had attacked Aana, seeking to take control of security positions.
Security forces killed six of the militants, Assadi said, adding that SWAT units were deployed to the area.
Separately, soldiers battled militants in the Hamreen area north of Baghdad, killing four, while two soldiers were killed and nine wounded, officers said.
A helicopter pilot was wounded by gunfire in the operation, during which two militants were arrested and weapons seized, army Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir al-Zaidi said.
Two officers said a helicopter had been shot down, but Zaidi insisted that it was able to return to base.
Militants, including those linked to al-Qaeda, frequently target security forces and other government employees, and security forces have carried out major operations against them in recent months.
Attacks in Nineveh province in Iraq’s north also killed three people on Tuesday, while violence in Babil province, south of Baghdad, killed two.
Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency said it was ‘increasingly concerned about the situation in Iraq, where recent waves of sectarian violence threaten to spark new internal displacement of Iraqis fleeing bombings and other attacks.’
This year, ‘bombings and rising sectarian tensions have displaced some 5,000 Iraqis, with people mostly fleeing from Baghdad into Anbar and Salaheddin governorates, as well as causing displacement within Diyala and Nineveh governorates,’ UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said in a statement.
There are already ‘more than 1.13 million internally displaced people... inside Iraq who fled their homes to escape intense sectarian violence from 2006-2008,’ the statement said.
The Tuesday violence came after four days of attacks that have raised the spectre of a return to the all-out Sunni-Shiite conflict that peaked in 2006-2007 and killed tens of thousands of people.
A bombing against Sunni mourners in Baghdad on Monday killed 15 people, while another at a Sunni funeral the day before killed 12.
Those attacks were preceded by bombings targeting Shiite mourners in the capital on Saturday that killed 73, and two blasts at a Sunni mosque north of Baghdad in which 18 died on Friday.
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