Iraqi security forces on Sunday battled gunmen who detonated a car bomb before blasting their way into a government compound and killing seven policemen in a one-time Sunni insurgent hotbed,police and local government officials said.
The three-hour standoff between Shia-dominated security forces and suspected Sunni insurgents in the Anbar province capital of Ramadi,115 km west of Baghdad,marked the first serious gunbattle for Iraqi forces against insurgents without American backup since the US military completed its withdrawal last month.
Violence has surged since US troops left. It has included straight sectarian attacks,like a bombing Saturday that killed more than 50 pilgrims during a Shia procession,and attacks against the government,like the Sunday assault.
On Sunday morning,five gunmen wearing military uniforms and explosive-rigged vests stormed the compound in Ramadi,two police officials said. The compound houses Ramadi police headquarters and several federal security agencies,including an anti-terrorism police task force and a detention facility where terror suspects are interrogated.