Fresh attacks across Iraq as country awaits poll results
Militants on Thursday staged a series of attacks as Iraq anxiously awaited final results from the March 7 parliamentary election widely seen as a test of the country's stability.
In Qada al-Hadar, south of the troubled northern city of Mosul, Iraqi soldiers killed two suspected militants during a gunfight, police told the German Press Agency dpa.
Police said they had earlier detained six suspected militants in two separate raids in the city.
Mosul and its environs are among the most ethnically and religiously diverse areas of Iraq, and among the most dangerous. Despite successive pushes that police say have netted hundreds of suspected militants, insurgents continue to launch deadly attacks against citizens of all faiths, almost daily.
In incidents near the similarly diverse and disputed city of Kirkuk, militants abducted a medical doctor, Hashim Mohammed Amin, from in front of his home in the centre of the city, police told dpa.
Police said Amin was a member of the city's Turkman minority, and that his brother, Nehad Mohammed Amin, was a police officer responsible for protecting health facilities.
Militants threw an explosive device off a bridge in Kirkuk as a police patrol boat passed underneath it. Two policemen and one civilian passerby were injured by the blast, police said.
Many Iraqi Kurds hope Kirkuk will become the capital of an independent "Kurdistan", but Arab and Turkman politicians view the city, and its nearby 10 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, as integral parts of Iraq.
Lethal violence continued in the west of the country on Thursday, police said.
One policeman was killed and eight injured when a suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body near the provincial police headquarters in al-Ramadi, roughly 120 kilometres west of Baghdad, police told dpa.
In nearby Falluja, formerly the site of some of the worst fighting between insurgents and US and Iraqi forces, three civilians were injured in an explosion near the city's main police station, police said.
In a separate incident, three militants were injured when a bomb they were trying to plant near a military installation exploded. Police said they arrested two of the injured militants, but the third escaped.
And in the central Iraqi city of Tikrit, famous for being former president Saddam Hussein's hometown, police said they had arrested a group of five suspected militants led by a former member of the outlawed Baath Party.
Police said the group, "led by Mahmoud Lahmoud al-Ojaili, an officer in the previous regime's police force, and a member of the Baath Party, have carried out numerous crimes resulting in the deaths of dozens of members of the police and the army."
The detained men confessed to carrying out "numerous crimes" over the past four years, police said.