BAGHDAD, (Reuters) – Nine Kurdish troops were killed when suspected al Qaeda gunmen attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint in Diyala province north of Baghdad on Thursday, police said.
Police had initially said the victims were policemen manning the checkpoint, but later said they were Kurdish soldiers.
A spokesman for the Kurdish Peshmerga forces from Iraq’s largely autonomous region of Kurdistan earlier said eight Peshmerga troops and three gunmen had been killed in a clash in Diyala, one of the most dangerous provinces in Iraq. It appeared both reports referred to the same incident, although Iraqi police and the Peshmerga spokesman, Major-General Jabbar Yawar, gave different locations for the attack.
Yawar said the fighting took place near the town of Khanaqin, 140 km (85 miles) northeast of Baghdad, close to the border with the Kurdish region.
Iraqi police said the incident took place to the west of Khanaqin, outside another town called Qarah Tappah.
The Peshmerga, who have fought alongside U.S. and Iraqi troops, were attacked by gunmen with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, Yawar said. Five Peshmerga were wounded and the fighting continued into the afternoon.
Al Qaeda and other Sunni Islamist insurgents have moved into Diyala and other areas north of Baghdad after being driven out of western Anbar province and many areas of the capital during a security crackdown this year.