TIKRIT, (AFP) – Gunmen killed three anti-Qaeda militiamen in northern Iraq overnight in the latest revenge attack against the force credited with turning the tide against the jihadists, police said on Friday.
Another three militiamen were wounded in the midnight (2100 GMT) attack on a checkpoint in the centre of the mainly Sunni Arab town of Al-Sharqat, 290 kilometres (180 miles) north of Baghdad, a provincial police officer said.
Recruited by the US military among Sunni Arab tribesmen and former insurgents, the Sahwa (Awakening) militia, also known as the Sons of Iraq, played a key role in curbing the sectarian violence which claimed thousands of lives in 2006 and 2007.
Dozens of its fighters have been killed in acts of retaliation in recent months. Six were killed on Thursday in an attack in the village of Shrwain in ethnically divided Diyala province just north of the capital, one of Al-Qaeda’s remaining Iraqi strongholds.
When full control of the Sahwa passed from the US military to the Iraqi government in April last year, Baghdad promised to integrate 20 percent of its men into the police or army, and find civil service jobs for many others.
But 52,000 are still waiting for new employment.