news services
updated 10/3/2011 7:08:26 AM ET 2011-10-03T11:08:26

Security forces stormed a police station where gunmen were holding police and civilians hostage on Monday, leaving three people dead and bringing an end to the standoff.

Brig. Mohammed al-Fahdawi of the Iraqi Army's 7th Division in Anbar province said three of the hostages died in the Monday morning incident along with all of the gunmen.

The gunmen were disguised as police officers when they entered the station in the town of al-Baghdadi in western Iraq, some 125 miles west of Baghdad, and took police officers as well as civilians working there hostage.

They immediately opened fire upon entering and one of the insurgents blew himself up, provincial police officials said.

Among the hostages was the mayor of al-Baghdadi, whose office is on the second floor of the police station, according to the officials.

Around 15 people had been held inside the building, local authorities said earlier. It was not immediately clear whether the attackers had made any demands.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The incident demonstrates the vulnerability of the Iraqi security forces at a time when American troops are swiftly drawing down their presence after more than eight years of war.

Anbar province has been a hotbed of Iraq's insurgency for years. Sunni militants aligned with terror groups such as al-Qaida often attack the local police and military who they see as traitors and supporters of the Shiite-led government.

Under a 2008 agreement, all American forces must leave Iraq by the end of this year, although U.S. and Iraqi officials have been discussing whether to have a small U.S. military presence in Iraq into next year.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


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