BAGHDAD (AP) — A string of attacks across Iraq killed 15 people on Saturday, including a senior military commander, a colonel and five soldiers who all died during a raid on an al-Qaida hideout, officials said.
Police officials said army Maj. Gen Mohammed al-Karawi, the colonel and the five troops were killed when they stormed the booby-trapped hideout in the area of Rutba, in Iraq's volatile Sunni western Anbar province.
Al-Karawi, who commanded the Iraqi army's 7th Division, was leading a search operation hunting for al-Qaida fighters in the area. Four soldiers were wounded in the operation, the police said.
Also in western Iraq, gunmen in a speeding car opened fire at a police checkpoint in the city of Fallujah earlier on Saturday, killing four policemen.
In the north, near the city of Kirkuk, an army officer and a soldier were killed when two mortar shells struck a military camp, officials said.
And in the town of Latifiyah, 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of Baghdad, a mortar shell hit a group of Shiite pilgrims heading to the holy sites in the city of Karbala.
The pilgrims were commemorating Arbaeen, the end of 40 days of mourning following the anniversary of the death of Prophet Mohammed's grandson, Imam Hussein, a revered Shiite figure.
Hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims make their way every year to Karbala for Arbaeen. Al-Qaida fighters and other Sunni insurgents frequently target Shiites, whom they consider to be infidels. Iraqi security forces also often poorly protect Shiite marches and pilgrimages to holy sites.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for any of the attacks Saturday.
Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media.
Violence has spiked in Iraq since a deadly crackdown on a Sunni protest camp in a northern town in April. At least 367 people have died in attacks across the country so far this month, according to an Associated Press count.
Associated Press writer Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed to this report from Baghdad.