At least 29 people were killed and another 40 injured when insurgents set off at least two car bombs and attacked a police station in a bloody assault on the Iraqi town of Samarra today.
The US military said a total of 17 policemen and 12 Iraq civilians were killed during multiple ”desperate” attacks throughout the town. Another 23 people and 17 policemen were injured, the military said.
Police officer Qahtan Mohammed confirmed that a group of armed militants stormed a police station at 9am (6am Irish time) in the Zera district, killing 12 policemen and injuring one other.
The US military also reported that a mortar attack near a police station killed three Iraqi policemen and wounded nine others. Small arms fire was also reported.
In the other attacks, a suicide car bomber detonated explosives inside a stolen police car near the mayor’s office, police said. A second car bomb exploded in a residential area of the town near a US base and a mortar fell on a crowded market, police said.
Samarra Hospital officials said a commander of the Iraqi National Guard, Abdel Razeq Shaker al-Garmali, was also killed in the attacks.
Residents said US forces announced through loudspeakers an indefinite curfew in the town.
American warplanes and helicopters were heard roaming overhead. Throughout Samarra, US forces clashed with small bands of insurgents.
The US military said the mayor imposed a curfew in the city starting at 2pm (11pm Irish time). No coalition casualties were reported.
The statement said that Iraqi security forces and coalition forces have “full control of the situation.”
The US military also reported that four soldiers from an Iraqi police battalion were wounded when a car bomb detonated near a patrol in Samarra. There were no reports of any coalition casualties.
During a separate joint patrol, an Iraqi National Guard soldier identified a car bomb and destroyed the vehicle, which appeared to have been a stolen police truck. One Iraqi soldier and four civilians was wounded in the blast, the military said.
In September, US and Iraqi forces seized control of Samarra, 60 miles north of the capital. Since then, Iraqi officials said the city has been an example of how the Americans and the Baghdad government can restore order in restive towns and cities from the insurgents.
Insurgents waging a 17-month campaign have frequently targeted Iraqi officials - viewed as collaborators with the occupying forces – in a bid to undermine the country’s US-backed interim authorities.