BAGHDAD, Iraq, (AP) – A suicide bomber killed at least seven Iraqi policemen northeast of Baghdad Sunday, as Iraqi police and soldiers battled Shiite militiamen in a southern city, authorities said.
In Muqdadiyah — about 55 miles northeast of the capital — a suicide bomber killed at least seven policemen and wounded 30 others at a police station. Insurgents then launched six mortar rounds at the station.
Shortly after the suicide bomber attack, two roadside bombs exploded next to one another in Khanaqin, about 90 miles northeast of Baghdad, close to the Iranian border, police said. The coordinated attacks wounded 18 civilians, some seriously.
In the south, at least five police have been killed in Samawah, where Shiite fighters attacked police headquarters and other government buildings with rocket-propelled grenades. Police have been battling the fighters since Friday.
Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, did not identify the gunmen in Samawah, but police said they belonged to a militia formed by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Al-Sadr has lost control of some elements of his militia, and it was unclear whether the gunmen in Samawah considered themselves loyal to the cleric or were a renegade group intent on local control.
About 40 suspected militiamen were captured, a police official said on condition of anonymity out of concern for his safety.
Khalaf said tribal leaders were trying to intervene in an effort to stop the violence in Samawah, the capital of Muthana province, about 230 miles southeast of Baghdad.
Muthana was under control of British forces until July, when it became the first province to revert to Iraqi control.
Maj. Charlie Burbridge, a spokesman for British forces in the neighboring province of Basra, said no multinational forces are left in Muthana province.
“From time to time, there have been clashes there,” he said. “There are often tribal clashes, and rogue militias often exacerbate the situation. But the problem isn’t big enough for provincial authorities to request help from multinational forces.”
The Italian military transferred neighboring Dhi Qar province to Iraqi troops in September. Last week, U.S. forces ceded control of Najaf, the third of Iraq’s 18 provinces to be handed over to Iraqi forces