Gunmen kill at least 27 in attack blamed on al-Qaeda


Gunmen disguised as police raided checkpoints and homes in western Iraq yesterday, killing at least 27 members of the security forces, police said, in an attack the authorities said bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda.

The attacks in Anbar, once Iraq’s most violent province, raise concern that Iraq’s branch of al-Qaeda may regain a foothold there after the withdrawal of US troops in December.

Anbar was almost entirely under the control of al-Qaeda during the height of Iraq’s insurgency from 2005 to 2007, when the militants were defeated by local tribesmen and US forces. Mohammed Fathi, spokesman for the governor of Anbar province, said the latest attack bore the “fingerprints of al-Qaeda”.

A police source said gunmen dressed in uniforms of the security forces had driven from checkpoint to checkpoint slaughtering police in Haditha, 190km northwest of Baghdad.

The 27 dead included a lieutenant colonel and a captain who were dragged out of their homes in Haditha and killed, the police source said.