TIKRIT: At least 31 people were killed, including 14 police officers, and more than 40 wounded in attacks overnight by Daesh militants in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, security and medical sources said on Wednesday.
The militants wore police uniforms and used a police vehicle to enter the city, 175 km north of Baghdad, police colonel Khalid Mahmoud told reporters.
He said there were around 10 attackers, including two suicide bombers.
Daesh’s Amaq news agency said seven suicide fighters attacked a police position and the home of the head of the city’s counter-terrorism service, who was killed.
The assailants blew themselves up when they ran out of ammunition, it said.
A total of 31 bodies were taken to hospital, including 14 policemen, said Nawfal Mustafa, a doctor at the city’s main hospital.
The death toll rose during the morning as the bodies of civilians killed in their shops were found.
The attacks targeted a police checkpoint and the house of a police colonel, who was killed with four members of his family, officers said. Two suicide attackers detonated their vests when surrounded by police, and three others were killed in separate clashes. Five militants are thought to be hiding and Mahmoud said Tikrit authorities had declared a curfew on Wednesday.
Sporadic gunfire could be heard in the morning. Meanwhile, Iraq’s military on Wednesday urged residents to shelter in their homes in militant-held areas of Mosul, where its bid to oust the Daeshgroup has taken a heavy toll on civilians.
The government has encouraged residents not to flee during the fighting − a policy aimed at easing ease the burden of widespread displacement but which can heighten the risk of injury or death for civilians.
“Iraqi air force aircraft dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets... containing procedures and recommendations for citizens” in west Mosul and other IS-held areas, said Iraq’s Joint Operations Command.
These included “remaining inside houses and staying away from known (Daesh) sites such as headquarters, checkpoints, artillery positions and barracks, because they will be targets for our aircraft.
“Aerial bombing will target (Daesh) gangs and not civilians,” it said in a statement.
But irrespective of whether or not they are directly targeted, residents still can and have been the victims of strikes aimed at Daesh fighters who are deployed in areas still populated by hundreds of thousands of civilians.