World News

Gunmen kill five police at Baghdad checkpoint

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Gunmen using silenced weapons attacked a security checkpoint in the Iraqi capital after dawn Tuesday, killing five police officers, an interior ministry source said.

The attack took place in the Mansour district of west-central Baghdad just after three mortar rounds hit the area, the source said. No one was hurt by the shelling.

The attackers raised the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq, an al Qaeda affiliate, over the checkpoint following the assault, the source said.

Violence has fallen sharply in the last three years but insurgents still launch attacks daily, frequently targeting the Iraqi army and police. Nearly 400 civilians were killed in bombings and other attacks in July, nearly doubling the toll of the previous month, Iraqi authorities say.

Tens of thousands of people were killed during the height of Iraq’s sectarian slaughter in 2006-07.

Insurgents frequently used silenced guns in attacks on security stops to avoid alerting troops or police at nearby checkpoints and to allow them to escape.

Militants are believed to be trying to exploit a political vacuum that followed Iraq’s March 7 parliamentary election. Nearly five months later, Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish political factions have yet to sort out a coalition government.

Some politicians say it could be mid-September or later by the time Iraq has a new government.

Writing by Jim Loney; editing by David Stamp