BAGHDAD (AFP) – Nine Iraqi police officers have been killed when insurgents detonated a series of bombs and fierce fighting erupted in the northern city of Mosul.
At least six car and roadside bombs were triggered, and mortar shells were fired at police posts, he said. “Up until now nine police have died, including a colonel, but it’s still going on.”
Mosul’s police chief, General Major General Wathiq al-Hamdani, blamed fighters inspired by the Saudi extremist Osama bin Laden for the attack.
“These are members of al-Qaeda that we clashed with. We killed large numbers of them and we burned their trucks and vehicles. We are in full control of the situation. The people of Mosul were very helpful,” he told state television Friday.
Mosul, 370 kilometres (200 miles) from Baghdad, has a majority Sunni Arab population and significant Turkmen and Kurdish ethnic minorities. It is often the scene of violent attacks on security forces.
“The situation is still volatile, and clashes are continuing in parts of the city,” the senior officer told AFP from Mosul, adding that a vehicle curfew had been imposed from 10 am (0600 GMT) Friday until 6 am on Saturday.
The first bomb was detonated just after sunrise, followed shortly by the others, and sporadic gunbattles were still continuing six hours later, the officer said.
The clash came a day after the top US commander for the Middle East, General John Abizaid, told US lawmakers that Iraq could slide into sectarian civil war, three years after a US-led invasion overthrew Saddam Hussein’s regime.