Up to 52 al-Qaida militants, including an al-Qaida leader, were killed in clashes in Iraqi Anbar provincial capital city of Ramadi, while 11 people were killed and 10 others wounded in violence across the country, security sources said on Monday.
Iraqi security forces carried out a security operation and battled gunmen believed to be linked to al-Qaida organization in several parts of Ramadi, some 110 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, leaving some 52 militants killed, including a provincial al-Qaida leader Abu Baker al-Anbari, according to a statement by the counter-terrorism service.
In a separate incident, mortar rounds landed on the town of Nu' aimiyah, just south of the city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, destroying a house and leaving four people killed and three people wounded, a police source in Anbar province told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, a roadside bomb went off inside a shop in the city of Heet, some 160 km west of Baghdad, and killed the shop owner, the source said.
Anbar province has been the scene of fierce clashes that flared up after Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside Ramadi in late December last year.
Near Baghdad, a policeman was killed and a civilian was wounded when gunmen opened fire on their car in Abu Ghraib area, some 25 km west of Baghdad, the source added.
Elsewhere, a bomb ripped through a popular market in the town of Rashdiyah, some 30 km north of Baghdad, killing four civilians and wounding three others, a local police source anonymously told Xinhua.
In addition, a roadside bomb went off near a checkpoint manned by a government-backed Sahwa paramilitary group in Hour Rejab area, in southern Baghdad, killing a Sahwa member and wounding three others, a police source said.
The Sahwa militia, also known as the Awakening Council or the Sons of Iraq, consists of armed groups, including some powerful anti-U.S. Sunni insurgent groups, who turned their rifles against the al-Qaida network after the latter exercised indiscriminate killings against both Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities.
Iraq is witnessing its worst violence in recent years. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, a total of 8,868 Iraqis, including 7,818 civilians and civilian police personnel, were killed in 2013, the highest annual death toll in years.