Iraq: Clashes, attacks kill at least 31 people

Clashes between Iraqi government forces and militants along with attacks in the capital Baghdad killed at least 31 people and wounded dozens today, officials said.

AFP| Last Updated: Feb 12, 2015, 01:53 AM IST

Baghdad: Clashes between Iraqi government forces and militants along with attacks in the capital Baghdad killed at least 31 people and wounded dozens today, officials said.

Heavy clashes erupted in three areas outside the city of Tikrit, which is controlled by the Islamic State extremist group, killing 12 security forces, Shiite militiamen and civilians, and wounding 37 others, a police official said. He added that three suicide truck bombers attacked security forces during the fighting.

Militants claimed responsibility for three suicide attacks in a statement posted on a Twitter account frequently used by the extremist group. It said the attacks were carried out by French, Syrian and Qatari fighters, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant forums.

The IS group controls around a third of both Iraq and neighboring Syria. It captured Tikrit, which is about 130 kilometers north of Baghdad, during its sweep across northern and western Iraq last summer.

Meanwhile, mortar shells struck two Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, killing at least 10 civilians, another police officer said.

The deadliest mortar attack struck a commercial area, killing seven civilians, including two women, and wounding 19 others. Hours later, mortar shells landed in another neighborhood, killing three civilians and wounding six others, the police officer added.

In another attack in the capital, a bomb blast killed at least two people and wounded eight. And at least seven people were killed and 17 wounded after a car bomb exploded in a town southwest of Baghdad.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Jordanian armed forces, Lt Gen Mashal al-Zaben, today met the Iraqi defense minister and reiterated Jordan's "support to Iraq in its war against the terrorist gangs," according to an official statement.

Jordan is part of the U.S.-led international coalition carrying out airstrikes against IS militants in Iraq and Syria.