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Iraq: Bombers, gunmen kill 13 and destroy houses

Attackers targeted Iraqi police and anti-insurgent fighters Monday in an apparent campaign of intimidation that left at least 13 dead and multiple homes destroyed.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Attackers targeted Iraqi police and anti-insurgent fighters Monday in an apparent campaign of intimidation that left at least 13 dead and multiple homes destroyed.

Also among the dead were three civilians killed by a bomb-rigged car loaded with ball bearings that exploded in a Baghdad shopping district. Elsewhere, drive-by shooters riddled a Christian man with 15 bullets in the disputed city of Kirkuk.

The spate of violence appears aimed at undermining Iraqis' faith in the country's security forces and exacerbating sectarian tensions. It comes at a sensitive time, with political leaders jostling for control three months after indecisive parliamentary elections that have left the country's future government uncertain.

Overall, violence has fallen sharply in recent years, thanks in part to efforts to win over former Sunni fighters who once fought U.S. forces but later switched sides to battle al-Qaida in Iraq.

Yet Iraqi security forces still struggle to stop deadly attacks as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw. Remnants of al-Qaida and its allies are blamed for many of the attacks that continue to plague the country.

A number of Monday's attacks took aim at the anti-insurgent Sunni fighters known as the Sons of Iraq, or Sahwa. Iraqi police were also targeted with home bombings.

Gunmen shot and killed a father and two of his sons at home in the al-Zaidan village, near the town of Abu Ghraib, west of the Iraqi capital. Police said the dead man's brother is a prominent Sahwa member, and that the gunmen likely believed he was staying in the house.

The area is at the doorstep of Iraq's western Anbar province, which is dominated by Sunni Arabs and is the birthplace of the Sons of Iraq movement.

In nearby al-Abid, gunmen forced the families of four policemen out of their houses at dawn and then bombed the buildings, police said. Officials said many in the area are Sahwa supporters, though others remain sympathetic to insurgents.

Attackers also blew up two empty houses in the town of al-Qaim on the Syrian border belonging to Samran Abid Mikhlif, a prominent local Sahwa leader. A bomb planted to ambush responding security forces killed one police officer and seriously wounded four, authorities said.

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

Based on AP reporting, at least 54 Sons of Iraq have been killed in war-related violence since June 2009.

Elsewhere, gunmen dressed in military uniforms killed three brothers and wounded a fourth in Sunidij, a village between Baghdad and Hillah to the south, according to Babil police spokesman Maj. Muthana Khalid. A local police officer said the brothers' father is an outspoken critic of al-Qaida because other members of his tribe had been killed by insurgents.

In Baghdad, the car bomb in the western Mansour neighborhood killed three and wounded at least nine people and damaged several shops. Ball bearings, apparently packed inside the car to increase the number of casualties, littered the bomb site.

Another bomb, this one stuck to a minibus, exploded in Baghdad's overwhelmingly Shiite slum of Sadr City, killing one and wounding eight.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, gunmen shot a Christian mobile phone shop owner, Hani Salim, 15 times from a passing car near his home, according to police Brig. Burhan Tayeb and a hospital official. Authorities said another man was killed in a drive-by shooting in Mosul.


AP researcher Brooke Lansdale in New York contributed to this report.