Gunmen seize hostages in Iraq police HQ: officials

AFP , Monday 3 Oct 2011

Armed militants bomb a police headquarter before taking hostage the police chief and mayor of Al-Baghdadi northwest of the Iraqi capital

Armed insurgents on Monday stormed a police headquarters in a western Iraqi town before taking hostage senior officials and policemen, security officials said.

At least two explosions preceded the attack on the Al-Baghdadi police headquarters, which is in a compound that also houses the office of the town's mayor, according to the officials.

One official said the blasts were caused by roadside bombs while another said they were suicide attacks.

A police official in the provincial capital Ramadi said the gunmen had taken hostage the police chief and mayor of Al-Baghdadi, about 150 kilometres (90 miles) northwest of the Iraqi capital in predominantly Sunni Anbar province.

But two other officials, a police officer in the nearby town of Haditha and an interior ministry official, only said several policemen were being held, without providing any more details.

All three officials said there were casualties from the attack, but it was unclear how many as the gunmen were in control of the complex.

Security reinforcements were being dispatched to the town.

Anbar was a key Sunni insurgent base in the years after the US-led invasion of 2003, but since 2006 local tribes have sided with the American military and day-to-day violence has dropped dramatically.

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