Firing, suicide bombing kill 12 in Iraq’s Tikrit
Tikrit was seized by IS in June 2014, but the city has largely been spared of attacks that have plagued other parts of the country since its recapture. Militants shot dead four security personnel at a checkpoint on the west side of the city, then continued north and detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle at another checkpoint, killing eight more people, a police colonel and lieutenant colonel said.
The attacks also wounded a total of 23 people, according to the officers. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but IS frequently carries out suicide attacks targeting both civilians and security forces in Iraq.
Hometown of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, Tikrit lies 60 kilometres north of Baghdad and was the second city to fall to IS in 2014 as the jihadists swept through large areas north and west of the capital.
It was also the first city to be recaptured by Iraqi forces, which are now preparing for a push on Mosul, a city north of Tikrit that is the last one held by IS in the country.
Western officials have indicated that the drive for Mosul, Iraq’s second city, may begin next month, though Baghdad has declined to specify when it will start.
While the announcement of the operation may be coming soon, Iraqi forces, which in some cases are dozens of kilometres away, will then have to fight their way to the city and surround it before an assault can take place. Even after Mosul is retaken, the jihadists will still have the ability to carry out attacks like those in Tikrit on Saturday.
Triple suicide attack in north Baghdad kills 11 soldiers
A triple suicide bombing against a security check point north of Baghdad on Saturday killed at least 11 members of the security forces, a police officer said.
The spokesman for the Salahuddin province police force, Col Mohammed al-Jabouri, said three militants rammed their explosives-laden vehicles early Saturday morning into the main check point at the province’s northern entrance. al-Jabouri added that 34 other security officers were wounded.
He said the attack occurred as the local police chief and head of the provincial security committee were visiting the site. Both escaped unharmed. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but IS militants have claimed multiple similar attacks. The Sunni extremists frequently launch attacks targeting Iraq’s security forces and civilians in public areas. The group stepped up attacks in recent months as it has lost territory in northern and western Iraq that it had captured in 2014.
In April 2015, Iraqi security forces drove out Islamic State militants from the Salahuddin provincial capital, Tikrit, about 130 km north of Baghdad. The attack came days after government forces recaptured the town of Shirqat, north of Tikrit, from IS militants. Backed by the US-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, the Iraqi government is preparing for a major military operation to dislodge militants from the city of Mosul.