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Insurgents battle Iraqi forces in Mosul

  • Iraqi youths inspect damages on the aftermath of a car bomb explosion in the northern city of Kirkuk, on June 6, 2014. AFP PHOTO / MARWAN IBRAHIM

MOSUL, Iraq: Militants fought Iraqi security forces in the northern city of Mosul Friday, a day after parts of another city were briefly overrun by insurgents.

A curfew was imposed on Mosul Thursday, when Sunni Islamist insurgents moved into parts of the city of Samarra, bringing them within striking distance of a Shiite shrine, the destruction of which in 2006 touched off a sectarian war.

The Iraqi army regained control in Samarra later the same day after bombing the city, but violence then spread to neighboring Nineveh province and its capital Mosul, where more than 30 people were killed in attacks Friday.

The two suicide bombers blew up vehicles in the Shabak village of Al-Muwaffaqiyah, east of Mosul, killing four people and wounding 45, police and medical officials said.

Most of Iraq’s 30,000 Shabaks follow a blend of Shiite Islam and local beliefs viewed as heretical by Sunni extremists, and they have been periodically targeted for attack.

In west Mosul, four police, three soldiers and 16 militants were killed in clashes, while a mortar round killed a civilian, officials said.

Three more soldiers were killed fighting militants in east Mosul, while security forces shot dead five would-be suicide bombers in the Hammam al-Alil area, south of the city.

The violence in Nineveh, one of the most dangerous areas of Iraq, came as the United Nations said it believed close to 480,000 people had been displaced during a crisis in Anbar province, where anti-government fighters have held all of one city and parts of another for months.

Spokesman Adrian Edwards Friday said the U.N. refugee agency believed “close to 480,000” people had fled their homes in Anbar province, where security forces and anti-government fighters have battled for control for over five months.

Displacement jumped last month when fighters deliberately breached a dam in Anbar’s Abu Ghraib district, flooding the area and forcing some 72,000 people from their homes, Edwards said.

That has compounded the displacement crisis because people are struggling to get access to clean water, raising health risks.

“Local officials say 28 tanker truckloads of potable water are being delivered to the area every day, but this is only meeting 50 percent of needs,” Edwards said.

In addition, there are fears that more civilians will flee the city of Fallujah, where recent shelling hit a hospital and water plant.

“We urgently need to ramp up our response, which is difficult for three reasons. We have deteriorating security in Anbar hindering access to people in need, the displaced are spread out across much of the country and donor support is lacking,” he said.

The displaced join some 1.1 million others from past years of violence in Iraq.

The crisis in Anbar, which shares a long border with civil war-hit Syria, erupted in late December when security forces dismantled a longstanding Sunni Arab protest camp near provincial capital Ramadi.

Anti-government fighters subsequently seized all of Fallujah, just a short drive from Baghdad, and parts of Anbar provincial capital Ramadi, further west.

Despite months of clashes and shelling, no resolution is in sight.

Violence is at its highest since 2006-07, when tens of thousands were killed in sectarian conflict between Iraq’s Shiite majority and Sunni Arab minority.

More than 900 people were killed last month, according to figures separately compiled by the United Nations and the government.

So far this year, more than 4,300 people have been killed, according to an AFP tally.

Officials blame external factors for the rise in bloodshed, particularly the Syrian conflict.

But analysts say widespread Sunni Arab anger with the Shiite-led government has also been a major factor.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 07, 2014, on page 11.
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Summary

Militants fought Iraqi security forces in the northern city of Mosul Friday, a day after parts of another city were briefly overrun by insurgents.

The Iraqi army regained control in Samarra later the same day after bombing the city, but violence then spread to neighboring Nineveh province and its capital Mosul, where more than 30 people were killed in attacks Friday.

Three more soldiers were killed fighting militants in east Mosul, while security forces shot dead five would-be suicide bombers in the Hammam al-Alil area, south of the city.

The violence in Nineveh, one of the most dangerous areas of Iraq, came as the United Nations said it believed close to 480,000 people had been displaced during a crisis in Anbar province, where anti-government fighters have held all of one city and parts of another for months.


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