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36 killed in battles in central and northern Iraq
A total of 36 people were killed, most were security members, in two major battles and separate insurgents attacks across the country, police said on Saturday.
In Anbar province, Iraqi security forces re-took control of campus of Anbar University which located in the western edge of the provincial capital city of Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, after fierce clashes with militants who stormed the university campus in the morning and left hundreds of students and teachers trapped in the school buildings, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The students and teachers were caught in the crossfire between the attackers and the Iraqi security forces, while they doing exams, according to the source.
Later in the day, the troops and the students opened a hole in the rear fence of the university and all let the students and the university staff to flee the scene safely without giving any casualty, the source said, adding that the students boarded buses provided by the provincial government to flee to safer areas.
Nine militants were killed in the battles between militant groups and a joint army and police force, which continued during the day in area surrounding the university, the source said.
Although it is still unclear who these attackers really are, the source said some of armed men were believed to have linkage with the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, an al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq.
Also in Anbar province, a suicide bomber drove his explosive- laden vehicle into an army base protecting a bridge, just west of Ramadi, and blew it up, leaving two soldiers killed and five others wounded, the source added.
Ramadi is one of two cities in Anbar that were taken by tribal and Sunni insurgents early this year. The government forces have now regained control of central part of the city, while its suburbs and outlying areas are still the scene of bloody attacks by militants.
In northern Iraq, the bodies of 21 policemen were found executed by militants in Iraq's northern city of Mosul, capital of Nineveh province, as fierce battles continue into the second day, a provincial police source anonymously told Xinhua.
"The police found the bodies of 19 policemen and two officers who were kidnapped yesterday dumped in executing-style in 17th July neighborhood in western Mosul," the source said.
On Friday, dozens of militants took control of several neighborhoods in western Mosul and fought fierce clashes with the Iraqi forces. Friday's battles resulted in the killing of up to 35 security members, five civilians and 30 militants, while 42 security members and 15 civilians were wounded.
Earlier on Saturday, Nineveh's Operations Command in a statement ordered residents of the western neighborhoods in Mosul to stay at homes as the helicopter gunships started airstrikes on positions of Militant groups believed to do with the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, an al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq.
Top Iraqi military officers arrived in Mosul in the morning to command the battles against the militants, the source said.
Meanwhile, dozens of families left their homes from the western Mosul to safer neighborhoods because of the bombardments and battles, in addition to the cut of the electricity and water supplies, the source added.
Xinhua reporter in Mosul said that heavy gunfire and sporadic explosions continued during the day while columns of black smoke could be seen above the neighborhoods of 17th July, Yarmouk, Islah and Tanak in western the city.
There is no immediate reports about casualties in Mosul as fierce battles are still underway, the reporter added.
Elsewhere, four soldiers were killed and five others and a civilian were wounded when two roadside bombs went off in a quick succession near an army patrol in northwestern the city of Baiji, some 200 km north of Baghdad, a local police source said.
Iraq is witnessing some of 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, the highest annual death toll in years.
[Source: Xinhua, Baghdad, 07Jun14]
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