SAMARRA, Iraq: The Iraqi province of Salahaddin declared three days of mourning from Sunday over a deadly attack blamed on the Daesh group, with some criticizing the state for failing to retaliate against militants.
Late on Saturday, a roadside bomb hit a civilian car on an open road about 200 kilometers north of Baghdad, police and a local official said.
When security forces arrived at the scene, militants opened fire on them.
The attack killed at least six Iraqi security personnel and four civilians, one of whom died of his injuries overnight, according to local medics.
There was no claim from Daesh, but the mayor and police blamed the group, which the Iraqi government said it defeated in late 2017.
This victory came after three years of brutal fighting to wrest a third of Iraqi territory that had been captured by Daesh.
Although the militants no longer hold any territory, sleeper cells are carrying out criminal attacks on state infrastructure, especially in desert areas north of the capital.
Two weeks ago, 11 people were killed in an Daesh attack on a lookout post in Al-Radwaniyah in the Baghdad suburb of predominantly Sunni areas.
The attacks coincided with a new campaign by Iraqi security forces to arrest militants in hiding across the country – but some say it was not enough.
“The Iraqi security forces have just assured us that this area has been cleaned,” wrote on Twitter Saturday evening Mashaan Al-Jaboury, a Sunni deputy representing Salahaddin.
For Jamal Al-Dhari, another Sunni personality writing on Twitter, the latest ambush “highlights the repeated failures of the fight against terrorism”.
“Mustafa Al-Kadhemi’s government seriously needs to put in place a national strategy … and stop being satisfied with ‘committees of inquiry’,” Dhari said.
Iraqis regularly mock their government for setting up investigative bodies that fail to deliver results.
The tensions arise as the US-led coalition, which has helped Iraq fight Daesh from 2014, cuts its troops.
This year, the United States has already reduced its contribution to the coalition from 5,200 to some 3,000 troops, with other countries also downsizing.
The United States announced last week that it would withdraw 500 more troops by mid-January.
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