People look at the damage at the site of a bomb attack in Baghdad’s Ghazaliya district yesterday.
BAGHDAD: Gunmen killed 12 Iraqi policemen and soldiers yesterday while a truck bomb hit a southern port, the latest in a surge in violence that authorities have failed to curb.
Security forces have in recent weeks carried out some of their biggest operations since the 2011 withdrawal of US forces, but analysts and diplomats have said authorities have not addressed the root causes of the violence.
Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki has nevertheless vowed to press on with the campaign in a bid to combat Iraq’s worst violence since 2008, and yesterday the interior ministry’s spokesman announced the killing of an alleged senior Al Qaeda-linked militant.
In yesterday’s deadliest attack, gunmen opened fire on an army post in the town of Madain, just southeast of Baghdad, in a pre-dawn strike that left five soldiers dead and three others wounded, police and a medical source said.
Among the dead was a lieutenant colonel. The gunmen fled after the attack, and security forces, who cordoned off the scene, launched a manhunt.
North of Baghdad, militants shot dead four police who were buying ice near the city of Tikrit.
Security forces often purchase large blocks of ice to distribute to nearby checkpoints in order to cope with Iraq’s sweltering summer heat.
In another attack north of the capital, gunmen killed three soldiers in the restive Muqdadiyah area of Diyala province.
And in the far south, a truck rigged with explosives blew up in the parking lot of the port of Umm Qasr, wounding three people and damaging a docked ship and several nearby trucks.
Umm Qasr port, near Iraq’s border with Kuwait, sits at the top of the strategic Gulf waterway and does not export oil. Imports handled there include grain shipments and heavy equipment used in the energy industry.
The blast damaged an out-of-service Iraqi ship anchored there and wounded four porters, the head of the Basra provincial security committee, Jabbar Al Saedi, said.
“It’s a serious breach to the port security and a terrorist act targeting Iraq’s economy,” he said.
The truck had been parked near one of the port’s unloading berths, he added.
The port’s operations were not affected, however, a spokesman said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Sunni militants linked to Al Qaeda and opposed to the Shia-led government frequently carry out attacks against security forces.
Interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan said yesterday that security forces had killed a top Al Qaeda militant in Tikrit and detained two of his aides. He did not identify the man who was killed.