BAGHDAD: A suicide bomber attacked Sunni anti-jihadi fighters south of Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 26 people, while a senior counter-terrorism officer was shot dead in north Iraq, officials said.The attack on the fighters, known as Sahwa, near a military base in the Madain area also wounded at least 56 people. It was unclear how many of the victims were Sahwa fighters.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. In the northern city of Kirkuk, a gunman killed Col. Dhargham Khairallah, the head of Kirkuk province’s anti-terrorism forces, a police colonel and a doctor said. The officer was being driven in Kirkuk’s Al-Shorjah neighborhood in a taxi to keep a low profile, but the gunman sprayed him with bullets from another car, according to the officer.
The Iraqi government has distributed arms and ammunition to tribesmen, and Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi aims to establish a national guard made up of local fighters, though the necessary law has yet to pass Parliament. Iraqi security forces backed by US-led airstrikes, Kurdish forces, Shiite militias and Sunni tribesmen have clawed back some ground from IS. But major areas, especially north and west of Baghdad, remain outside government control.