BAGHDAD — A suicide car bomb killed 12 Shiite militiamen and Iraqi soldiers Monday in a town north of Baghdad, authorities said, sparking a battle between security forces and fighters with the extremist Islamic State group.
The suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into a gathering of soldiers and Shiite fighters in the town of Abasiyat, just south of Tikrit, 130 kilometres (80 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
Police and hospital officials said the attack killed 10 militiamen and two soldiers, while wounding 18 people.
Clashes between Iraqi security forces and militants from the Islamic State group erupted immediately after the attack, police said, though the extremists did not immediately claim responsibility for the bombing.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.
Iraq sees near-daily bombings and other attacks mainly targeting the Shiite majority and security forces. Tikrit, held by the Islamic State group, and surrounding areas have been under constant attacks by its extremists.
The Islamic State group captured about a third of Iraq last year. The militant onslaught has become Iraq’s worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops.
A U.S.-led coalition is conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State group in both Iraq and Syria. On Monday, the U.S. military said in a statement that coalition aircraft conducted 16 airstrikes in Iraq and 11 in Syria.
Meanwhile Monday, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said Mahdi Norouzi, a member of paramilitary wing of its elite Revolutionary Guard, was killed while fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq.
Shiite powerhouse Iran has sent officers to Iraq, but insists they are only providing military advice and training to Iraqi forces. In December, a senior Revolutionary Guard commander was killed in a battle in Iraq.