Baghdad: A truck packed with explosives blew up in a city north of Baghdad n Thursday, killing at least 19 people, as security forces and allied tribesman battled to put down an uprising by al Qaeda-linked militants who overran police stations in several Sunni cities.
The Shiite-led government was trying to contain the eruption of militant violence in mainly Sunni Anbar province amid mounting sectarian tensions, fueled by authorities` moves the past week, arresting a senior Sunni politician accused of terrorism and dismantling a months-old Sunni sit-in protest.
Security forces and tribal fighters clashed with gunmen from al Qaeda`s Iraq branch a day after the militants launched a wave of attacks, fanning out to take over police stations and military posts in at least four cities and towns in western Anbar province.
Militants freed prisoners and set up checkpoints in streets and roved through several Anbar towns in security forces vehicles they had seized, waving al Qaeda banners.
The heaviest fighting today came in the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, 60 kilometres west of Baghdad, where two security officials said their forces were meeting particularly heavy resistance from al Qaeda fighters.
In the provincial capital of Ramadi, security forces took place several police stations, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the press. There was no immediate word on casualties.
Outside Anbar, a pickup truck laden with explosives blew up on a busy commercial street in the city of Balad Ruz, 70 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, destroying several shops, destroying several shops.
At least 19 people were killed and 37 wounded, according to the security officials and health officials.
In other attacks today, an explosive stuck onto a public minibus exploded in Baghdad`s Shaab district, killing 4 people and wounding six. Three soldiers were killed and five wounded in a bombing of their patrols in the northern city of Mosul, the officials said.
Militants also carried out two attacks in Latifiyah, a mainly Sunni town 30 kilometres south of Baghdad, they said.
In the deadliest attack, a bombing of an outdoor vegetable market that killed five civilians and wounded nine others. In the second attack, two soldiers were killed and five others wounded when their post came under fire by gunmen. Three militants were killed in the exchange of fire.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to release information.