FALLUJAH: Dozens of gunmen, some dressed in army uniforms, killed 26 policemen in a wave of coordinated attacks on checkpoints and officers' homes across the western Iraqi city of Haditha on Monday, police said.
The assault, launched at 2:00 am (2300 GMT on Sunday), saw insurgents dressed in military uniforms and riding in stolen army vehicles simultaneously attacking two checkpoints in the east and west of Haditha before storming other security posts and raiding the homes of two officers.
“They then entered the city and were distributed throughout Haditha, where other gunmen were waiting for them in civilian cars,” said police Lieutenant Colonel Owaid Khalaf, who said he was involved in some of Monday's firefights.
Khalaf said the attackers also targeted two senior police officers' homes, Colonel Mohammed Shauffeur and Captain Khaled Mohammed Sayil. They killed three bodyguards at each of the officer's houses, and kidnapped both.
Shauffeur's body was found in a Haditha marketplace and Sayil was discovered in an alleyway, blindfolded with fatal gunshots to the head.
“Right now, police, army and forces from the rest of Anbar are searching the entire city, and a curfew has been imposed,” Khalaf said, referring to the province where Haditha lies.
“A total of 26 policemen were killed, including a colonel and a captain, and three others were wounded when several armed men wearing security uniforms and carrying forged arrest warrants attacked several checkpoints,” said Haditha police spokesman Major Tareq Sayeh Hardan.
“Al-Qaeda is responsible for this,” Hardan said, noting that investigators found Al-Qaeda literature in a vehicle that the attackers left behind.
The attack in Haditha, 210 kilometres (130 miles) northeast of Baghdad, is the first major instance of violence in the town since a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a bank, killing nine people, including three police, and wounding eight others on March 3, 2011.