BAGHDAD: Militants downed an Iraqi army helicopter on Thursday in clashes that have killed at least 19 people including 11 policemen, a regional official said, in what appeared to be part of an Al Qaeda surge to retake one of its former strongholds.
The fighting centred around the town of Hadid, about 10 kilometres north of the Diyala provincial capital of Baqouba.
Diyala provincial spokesman Salih Ebressim Khalil said militants opened fire on Thursday on the Iraqi army helicopter, killing one soldier, wounding another and forcing the aircraft to make an emergency landing. The rest of the crew was unharmed.
Despite police efforts to seal off the area, gunbattles raged overnight Wednesday, killing 11 policemen, Khalil said.