33 killed in series of attacks in western Iraq

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At least 33 people, mostly policemen, were killed this week in a series of attacks by suicide bombers and gunmen that targeted Iraqi security forces in the western province of Anbar, a provincial police source said on Wednesday.

The attacks started late Tuesday when a suicide bomber blew up an explosive-laden car at a police station in the city of Rutba, some 370 km west of the capital Baghdad, killing at least six policemen and wounding 14 others, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, four policemen were killed when gunmen attacked their checkpoints in Rutba, while two more policemen were killed and four wounded in a car bomb explosion near a security patrol in the city, the source said.

Early on Wednesday, gunmen ambushed several security patrols on the highway in west of Anbar's provincial capital of Ramadi, some 110 km west of the capital. The gunmen kidnapped 14 policemen and killed them by cutting their throats before throwing their bodies near the highway, the source added.

Later in the morning, a suicide bomber drove an explosive- packed truck into a police checkpoint on a bridge over the highway outside of Rutba and blew it up, destroying part of the bridge and killing four policemen and three truck drivers who were crossing the bridge, he said.

During the past few days, Anbar province has witnessed a series of deadly attacks including coordinated suicide bomb attacks which targeted local government buildings and security forces in the provincial cities of Rawa and Fallujah. The two massive attacks killed a total of 18 people and wounded 42.

Insurgent attacks continue in the volatile Sunni Arab area west of Baghdad that stretches through Anbar province to Iraq's western borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the al-Qaida front in Iraq, in most cases, was responsible for such suicide bombings in the country.

Iraq is witnessing its worst eruption of violence in recent years, which raises fears that the country is sliding back to the full-blown civil conflict that peaked in 2006 and 2007, when monthly death toll sometimes exceeded 3,000.

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq said that almost 6,000 civilians were killed and over 14,000 others were injured in Iraq from January to September this year.

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