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60 killed in ongoing clashes in Iraq's Anbar province
At least 60 people were killed and some 297 others wounded in clashes between the security forces and militant groups over the past two weeks, as the battles continued on Saturday, a local official and a police source said.
"Many women and children were among the dead as the clashes and the shelling hit residential areas in the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah," head of Anbar Health Directorate Khudeir Khalaf Shalal told reporters.
The battles between hundreds of Sunni tribesmen backed by the Iraqi security forces and al-Qaida fighters continued Saturday in the eastern and northeastern districts of Ramadi, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the tribesmen and the army re-took control of the town of Khaldiyah, and pushed al-Qaida militants to the edges of the town after several days of fierce clashes, the source said.
More clashes occurred in the town of Garma, some 10 km east of Fallujah, when the security forces and the tribesmen fought al- Qaida gunmen who control large part of the town, the source added.
In addition, two children were killed and two people wounded in Garma late on Friday night when several mortar rounds landed on residential areas in the town, the source said.
In Fallujah, several mortar rounds struck the al-Askari neighborhood in the city and wounded two civilians, he added.
Separately, Anbar's provincial council voted in the new mayor for the city of Fallujah to replace the former mayor who was shot dead by a sniper shot in central the city on Nov. 13, a source from Anbar's provincial council told Xinhua.
Anbar province has been the scene of fierce clashes that flared up after Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside Ramadi in late December last year.
Iraq is witnessing its worst violence in recent years. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, a total of 8,868 Iraqis, including 7,818 civilians and civilian police personnel, were killed in 2013, which is the highest annual death toll for years.
[Source: Xinhua, Baghdad, 11Jan14]
War in Iraq
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