At least 25 people died in a battle between Sunni fighters and al Qaeda fighters northeast of Baghdad on Thursday, police said. According to Reuters, police and residents of the Sheikh Tamim and Ibrahim Yehia villages said about 200 gunmen stormed into their villages early on Thursday and executed three young men and the imam of a mosque. This triggered a confrontation with local gunmen who killed 10 of the attackers.
Police said they detained 22 of the attackers. The two villages are in Diyala province, where American forces are cracking down on al Qaeda and other militants who are using the region as launch pad for attacks in Baghdad.
Baquba police chief Brigadier-General Ali Delayan said the attackers shelled the two villages with mortars before storming them. They also used rocket-propelled grenades and reduced some houses to rubble. He said the attackers took five women hostage before retreating. "The first attack was against a mosque," said Delayan. "They blew up the mosque, then they bombed houses crowded with family members."
In other violence a roadside bomb killed one civilian in Baghdad's Jadida neighbourhood, security officials said. The US military also said two suicide car bombers attacked a US-led forces outpost in northern Baghdad on Wednesday, killing four Iraqi troops and injuring 11 American troops and four Iraqi soldiers.