KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) - Militants launched a coordinated assault against local government and police buildings in northern Iraq on Wednesday, with suicide car bombs and mortar attacks killing at least 10 people, police and medical sources said.
The attacks, which military officials said looked like the work of al Qaeda, began when two suicide car bombs were detonated outside the local council building and police headquarters in the town of Hawija.
Militants then fired mortar rounds before engaging the army in gunfire, killing three soldiers, military sources said. At least three attackers were also shot dead. The militants withdrew after reinforcements arrived.
“I was at the Hawija local council building when suddenly two blasts shook the ground,” said Yaseen al-Sabaw. “I ran out of the building and was shocked to see human flesh and body parts spread around the entrance”.
Sunni Islamist militants including al Qaeda have been regaining momentum in their insurgency against Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government, as sectarian tensions across the region are fanned by civil war in Syria.
Nearly 6,000 people have been killed in acts of violence so far this year, according to monitoring group Iraq Body Count.
In a separate incident, gunmen broke into the house of a policeman in the Shaab district of northern Baghdad, killing him, his wife, sister-in-law and his three children, police and medics said.
In Taji, around 20 km (12 miles) north of Baghdad, gunmen opened fire at a vehicle and killed two off-duty soldiers, police and medical sources said.
Tensions have increased between Iraq’s Shi’ite Muslim leaders and the Sunni minority who have held months of protests demanding an end to what they see as their marginalization.
Reporting by Mustafa Mahmoud; Additional reporting by Kareem Raheem; Writing by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Isabel Coles and Robin Pomeroy