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Attacks kill 13 in Iraq, militants seize soldiers

Jan. 26, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
IRAQ-UNREST-BLAST
Iraqis inspect a burnt-out car Jan. 26 at the scene of car bomb explosion in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. (Marwan Ibrahim / Getty Images)
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BAGHDAD — Car bombings and shootings killed 13 people across Iraq on Sunday, authorities said, as militants kidnapped soldiers in an embattled province where al-Qaida-linked fighters hold portions of two major cities.

Kirkuk deputy police chief Maj. Gen. Torhan Abdul-Rahman Youssef said three car bombs exploded Sunday afternoon simultaneously in separate residential neighborhoods. Youssef said the blasts killed four people and wounded 14.

The northern city of Kirkuk is 290 kilometers (180 miles) from the capital, Baghdad.

In Baghdad, police and medical officials said gunmen shot dead a former army officer and his wife in a drive-by shooting in Baghdad’s northeastern suburbs. Police officers also found three bodies around the capital, their hands and feet tied, all killed by what appeared to be close-range gunshots to the head, officials said.

Sunday night, a car bomb went off near a Sunni mosque in Mishahda area, killing three people and wounding 13 others, said police and hospital officials.

Mishahda is 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Baghdad.

Later on, police said gunmen attacked a security checkpoint in Baghdad’s western suburbs of Abu Ghraib, killing four soldiers.

Those officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

Meanwhile, clashes between security forces and al-Qaida-linked militants continued near a city west of Baghdad, according to local and military officials in the contested province of Anbar.

The officials said that the clashes erupted in the Niamiyah area near Fallujah. Militants also captured five Iraqi soldiers during clashes Sunday, said Dhari al-Arsan, Anbar’s deputy governor.

Al-Arsan said that several army vehicles were either destroyed or seized by the gunmen as well.

Footage posted online appeared to show five men dressed in Iraqi army uniforms, sitting in the back of a pickup as shouting onlookers and gunmen called them “infidels” and “agents.”

The video could not be absolutely verified but appeared consistent with reporting by The Associated Press on the incident.

The abduction Sunday was the second of its kind after the eruption of violence in Anbar province. On Jan. 6, four soldiers were kidnapped by militants near Fallujah and authorities later found their bodies.

Since late December, members of Iraq’s al-Qaida branch — known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — have taken over parts of Ramadi, the capital of the largely Sunni province of Anbar. They also control the center of the nearby city of Fallujah. Government forces and allied tribes have been trying to wrest control back from the militants.

Associated Press writer Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed to this report.

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