BAGHDAD (AP) — Gunmen killed an anti-terrorism policeman and his family in Baghdad on Saturday, while kidnappers abducted eight policemen guarding a post on Iraq's main highway to Jordan and Syria, the latest in a wave of violence to grip the country. Attackers also shot dead a Sunni cleric in the Shiite-majority south.
The attacks follow three days of bombings and other violence that killed 130 people, targeting a market, a mosque and bus stops in both Shiite and Sunni areas in scenes reminiscent of retaliatory attacks between the two groups that pushed the country to the brink of civil war in 2006-2007. The particularly violent recent weeks have raised fears the country may be heading toward a new round of sectarian conflict.
Saturday's deadliest attack occurred when gunmen broke into the house of an anti-terrorism police officer in the southern suburbs of Baghdad, killing five people including him and his sleeping family. Police officials say the attackers stormed the house in the al-Rasheed district early Saturday and shot dead Cap. Adnan Ibrahim, his wife and two children, aged eight and 10.
As they were leaving the area, the attackers killed another policeman who tried to stop them at a nearby checkpoint.
Meanwhile in the western Sunni province of Anbar, gunmen kidnapped eight policemen who were guarding a post on the main highway linking Iraq to both Jordan and Syria, said two police officials. The abductions happened Saturday on the desert road west of Baghdad, they added.
Earlier in the day, security forces and gunmen clashed in the area when police tried to arrest a Sunni tribal sheik suspected of being behind the killing of three army intelligence soldiers stopped by gunmen near a protest site in Ramadi last month. Iraqi authorities had offered a bounty for the arrest or information leading to the arrest of Khamis Abu Risha and two other people they say were linked to the killings.
The fighting, near Abu Risha's house north of Ramadi, left three people wounded. No arrests were made. Later, gunmen deployed near the main entrance of Anbar Operations Command headquarters in Ramadi, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad.
Elsewhere, in the southern city of Basra, gunmen shot and killed a Sunni cleric, Assad Nassir, as he was leaving his house, police said.
Two Iraqi soldiers were also killed and two others wounded when a roadside bomb struck a group of soldiers arriving to inspect the scene of a blast that took place earlier in the northern city of Mosul.
A security official said a roadside bomb hit a police patrol in the northern suburbs of Baghdad, killing one policeman and wounding two others.
Health officials confirmed the death tolls. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media.