Middle East News
20 killed in Iraqi police hostage crisis
Oct 3, 2011, 14:44 GMT
Ramadi, Iraq - At least 20 people were killed in western Iraq on Monday when security forces stormed a police station to end a hostage-taking situation.
Nine armed hostage-takers were killed in an exchange of fire at the police headquarters in al-Baghdadi, around 160 kilometres west of Baghdad.
The local head of police was among those killed, police sources told dpa.
Initially, a suicide bomber blew himself up in front of the main gate of the compound, which also houses the town's provincial council.
An armed group then broke into the police station and took at least 25 people, including senior police officers, hostage.
The area of al-Baghdadi is located inside al-Anbar province, where Sunni extremists were the dominant force after the 2003 US-led invasion. In 2006 many of the local tribes began to support US-Iraqi troops in fighting al-Qaeda insurgents.
Several hostage-taking situations have taken place in Iraq over the past months, including in March, when 65 people were killed in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit.
The latest attacks come ahead of a scheduled withdrawal by US forces later this year. Nearly 50,000 US soldiers remaining in Iraq are due to leave the country by the end of 2011, under a deal negotiated in 2008.
Media reports said Baghdad was negotiating with Washington over extending the stay of a number of US soldiers to train Iraqi troops after the agreed deadline.