BAGHDAD, (Reuters) – Thirty people were killed, including seven Iraqi soldiers, when more than 100 rebels attacked Iraqi police and army posts in Baquba on Thursday, the U.S. military said on Friday.
In one raid, insurgents attacked a police station and five police checkpoints with mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. Iraqi soldiers and police killed 17 rebels, the U.S. military said. One Iraqi soldier was killed and two were wounded, it said in a statement.
In a separate operation, insurgents also armed with mortar rounds and rocket launchers attacked an Iraqi army headquarters.
Four insurgents were killed and six Iraqi soldiers died in those clashes, which also left two civilians dead.
Although suicide bombings continue to inflict heavy damage, insurgents have been launching increasingly bold operations against police and army targets.
The U.S. military has said that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leaderof al Qaeda in Iraq, has shifted his tactics to focus less on American troops and more on Iraqi troops and security forces as they train to eventually take over security.
In the first video showing an unmasked Zarqawi broadcast this week, the Jordanian militant leader warned Iraqis against joining security forces.
Baquba police told Reuters on Thursday that U.S. forces had come to the aid of the police, but the statement by the U.S. military did not mention any intervention by U.S. forces, saying instead Iraqi forces “quickly responded” to the attacks.
Police Major-General Ghassan Adnan al-Bawi had said five policemen were killed in the attacks by some 400 to 500 insurgents, which he said lasted hours.
The withdrawal of U.S. troops depends on the performance of Iraq’s U.S.-trained security forces, who are struggling to curb insurgent suicide bombings, shootings and assassinations as well as a rise in sectarian violence.