Gunmen ram explosives-laden tanker into Iraq police HQ, killing many

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2014 4:30 AM

TIKRIT, Iraq (Reuters) - Scores of gunmen took over the headquarters of a federal police battalion in northern Iraq early on Friday before driving a tanker laden with explosives into the building, killing many, a government official said.

The commander of the battalion and his assistant were among the dead, but the total number of casualties was still impossible to ascertain because victims remained trapped beneath the building in the village of Injana, the official said.

The mayor of the nearby town of Sulaiman Pek, 160 km (100 miles) north of Baghdad, said security forces were still fighting the gunmen, who also seized control of another town in the area called Serha.

Militants earlier this year occupied Sulaiman Pek and raised the black flag of the Sunni Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) over it.

ISIL, which is also active in neighboring Syria, has been regaining momentum in Iraq over the past year and is one of a number of insurgent and tribal groups that stormed two cities in the western province of Anbar since January.

Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has declared war on Sunni militants, appealing for arms and international support to help quell an insurgency he paints as an extension of the civil war in Syria.

Maliki's critics say his own policies have marginalized the country's once-dominant Sunni minority and created the conditions for militants to thrive.