— Islamic State fighters extended their barrage of suicide bombings in Iraq
on Thursday, killing at least 20 Iraqi soldiers and tribal fighters outside the western regional capital of Ramadi
, and killing five policemen in a coordinated attack outside the Abu Ghraib district of Baghdad, officials said.
The new Islamic State attacks came a day after the Sunni terrorist group staged a deadly wave of bombings in Baghdad, including one in which dozens were killed at a crowded market in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City. Even as the Iraqi security forces have made progress in taking back territory from the group in recent months, the Islamic State has seemed to step up its calculated bomb plots.
ISIS militants unleashed a wave of car bombs while fighting against soldiers, policemen and Sunni tribal allies of the government north of Ramadi, in a counteroffensive against Iraqi forces that had taken back that city and other areas of Anbar Province in recent months.
The Iraqi military commander of Anbar operations, Gen. Ismail al-Mhallawi, said in a phone interview that ISIS fighters had struck at several places while the pro-government forces were beginning a new push to take towns and roads north of Ramadi. He said that at least 20 pro-government forces had been killed and more than 30 wounded in a widespread assault that included at least 10 suicide car bombs.
In Baghdad, the police said an assault by eight militants on a police station in Al Zaydan, just southeast of Abu Ghraib district, left at least five policemen dead and wounded at least 15 others early Thursday morning. Two of the attackers were suicide bombers who detonated their explosives at the station’s entrance around 2:30 a.m., said Talib al-Zoobai, one of the injured policemen.
A member of the local council in Abu Ghraib, Kamil AlDulaimy, said the other attackers were armed with assault rifles and rocket launchers, and were eventually killed by police officers. Mr. AlDulaimy said that a curfew had been imposed on Abu Ghraib district while the security forces looked for other potential attackers.
The recent pattern of bomb attacks is bringing increased pressure on the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who on Wednesday night visited a northern Baghdad hospital that was treating some of the wounded from the bombings.
Mr. Abadi is being pressed by a growing protest movement to follow through on promises to reform government and cut down on corruption. And as attacks by Sunni terrorists have increased in recent days, he has been criticized for not doing enough to protect civilians against such attacks.