BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least 12 Iraqi soldiers and paramilitary forces were killed on Saturday by suicide car bombs targeting an outpost in western Anbar province, while attacks in the capital killed at least 14 civilians, security and medical sources said.
The fighters were part of a campaign announced by the government last month to recapture parts of the Sunni heartland from the jihadist militants of Islamic State, which has held the territory for the past year.
The forces were targeted in a train station in Garma, on the road to the Islamic State stronghold of Falluja, 15 km (10 miles) to the east. The ultra-radical group did not claim the attacks, but the tactic is one they often employ.
“Five of the armored car bombs managed to reach our forces in the train station and blew up. It reduced the station to dirt,” an army officer told Reuters by phone.
He said the fighters managed to destroy another six car bombs before they reached their targets.
The officer said the death toll was likely higher than 12. Bodies were still being pulled from the rubble and the army had sent reinforcements that continued to clash with militants.
Tribal sources from Garma confirmed the attack but were not able to provide details. Government officials could not be reached for comment.
In Baghdad, two car bombs went off on Saturday evening near a restaurant and a gas station in the predominately-Shi‘ite district of Karrada Dakhil, killing 14 civilians and wounding more than 30 others, police and medics said.
Such attacks are not uncommon in the capital, where Shi‘ite areas are often targeted by the Sunni Islamist insurgents the government is struggling to dislodge from large sections of the country’s north and west.
Reporting by Baghdad bureau; editing by Ralph Boulton