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Iraqi security forces battle Sunni militants in seizure of towns

Iraqi security forces fought back Sunni insurgent groups across Iraq on Saturday, police and medical sources said.

In the country's western province of Anbar, Sunni militants, including those who are linked to Islamic State (IS), an al-Qaida breakaway group, attacked the city of Haditha, around 200 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, and the nearby dam on the Euphrates River, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The troops and some government-backed Sahwa paramilitary group fought back the attacks and killed some 40 militants, the source said without giving further details about the casualties among the security forces and the Sahwa members.

Separately, clashes erupted between the security forces and militant groups in the southern part of the provincial capital city of Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, leaving five militants killed, the source said.

Meanwhile, four people were killed and 19 others wounded, including four children, in artillery and mortar shelling on several neighborhoods in the militant-seized city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, a medical source from the city hospital told Xinhua.

In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, Iraqi security forces backed by volunteers clashed with Sunni militants who recently seized areas near the city of Maqdadiyah, about 100 km northeast of Baghdad, leaving six militants killed, while three security members were killed and six others wounded, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

In the city of Jalawlaa, Kurdish security forces, known as Peshmerga, clashed with militant groups and retook control of a neighborhood in the southern Jalawlaa, killing 13 militants and arresting six others, while three Peshmerga fighters were killed and seven others wounded, the source said.

The source added that Amer Latif al-Yahiya, head of the provincial electoral commission, was disappeared since Friday morning after he left his house in the town of Buhruz in south of the provincial capital Baquba.

The security forces launched an investigation into the incident, the source said, adding that most likely al-Yahiya has been kidnapped by militants who had tried to assassinate him twice earlier since he took over his post in the commission in 2005.

Elsewhere, helicopter gunships pounded a house in the town of Tuz-Khurmato, 180 km north of Baghdad, which is believed to be a safe house of Abu Suhaib, a leader of an IS militant group, killing him and 12 of his group members, a local police source said.

In a separate incident, a girl was killed and five civilians were wounded when a mortar round landed on a house in a village near Tuz-Khurmato, the source said.

[Source: Xinhua, Baghdad, 12Jul14]

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