Over 41 people were killed and 30 others injured across Iraq in separate insurgent attacks that mainly targeted security forces, police said Sunday.
The deadliest incident occurred in Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh late Saturday night when 20 soldiers were killed by dozens of gunmen who attacked their base in Ayn al-Jahash area, Xinhua quoted a provincial police source as saying.
The bodies of the soldiers were found near the area where the attackers abducted them, the source said, adding authorities suspected that the gunmen were linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq.
In a separate incident, a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into an army base in the eastern part of Mosul, the provincial capital of Nineveh, killing two soldiers and wounding two others, the source said.
Also in the province, gunmen attacked a police checkpoint in al-Salamiyat area and killed three policemen before they fled the scene, the source added.
Another deadly attack took place in Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala when seven members of a government-backed Sahwa paramilitary group were killed early Sunday by gunmen believed to be linked to ISIL, a provincial police source anonymously told Xinhua.
The gunmen carried out a pre-dawn attack on an outpost of the Sahwa group at a village near al-Udhiem area in north of the provincial capital of Baquba, the source said.
The Sahwa militia, also known as the Awakening Council or the Sons of Iraq, are a coalition of armed groups, including some powerful anti-US Sunni insurgent groups, who turned their rifles against the al-Qaida network after the latter exercised indiscriminate killings against both Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities.
In Anbar province, two civilians were killed and 11 wounded by artillery and mortar shelling on several neighbourhoods in the militant-seized city of Fallujah, Xinhua reported.
For its part, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said in a statement that an army force carried out an operation in the town of Saqlawiyah, just north of Fallujah, killing six gunmen and wounding 11 others.
Anbar province is witnessing fierce clashes that flared up after Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside Ramadi in late December last year.
In Baghdad, the security forces found three car bombs in Jamia district in western the capital and de-fused them without casualties, a police source said.
Meanwhile, a civilian was killed when a sticky bomb attached to his car detonated in Adhamiyah district in northern Baghdad, while a woman was wounded when a mortar round landed on a Sunni neighbourhood of al-Ghazaliyah in western the capital, the source added.
Iraq is currently witnessing the worst bouts of violence since the US withdrawal from the country in 2011.
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.